Low Back Pain: Q & A

Who commonly experiences low back pain?

Low back pain is experienced by nearly everyone at some point in their lifetime. Back pain seems to be particularly prevalent in patients between the ages of 40 and 80 but can occur in patients of any age. Low back pain is the leading cause of job-related disability and contributes to the most missed work days.

What are the causes of low back pain?

Low back pain can be difficult to diagnose because it is often caused by more than one variable. Your spine and muscles work together to create strength and flexibility for everyday activities and hobbies. Any imbalance related to the spine or the muscles, ligaments, tendons, or discs related to the spine can lead to pain. Low back pain can be exacerbated by stress, diet, repetitive motion, posture, genetics, exercise and sports, and age. Arthritis, joint irritation, and disc injury are common sources of low back pain.

Most low back pain is associated with muscle tension that creates difficulties in completing daily activities or when you are required to stay in one position for a prolonged period. Physical therapy can be very helpful in alleviating this pain by increasing strength and flexibility and releasing the tension that creates pain. It is important to remember that underlying organ issues can also cause low back pain, making it essential that you see a doctor if your pain is especially intense or does not respond to therapy.

What are the effects of low back pain?

Acute low back pain often resolves on its own within 2-4 weeks, but if symptoms do not improve or worsen, it is important to seek medical attention. A physical therapist can often help you determine what is causing the pain and help you get back to normal activities.

If your pain persists, low back pain can have psychological effects as well. You may begin to avoid certain situations or activities because of the pain, and you may begin to avoid physical activity altogether, increasing your risk of weight gain and heart disease. You may also have trouble sleeping, which can lead to other health problems. Chronic pain is also a common cause of depression.

How can I prevent low back pain?

Lifestyle is the most important factor in preventing low back pain. Nutrition, exercise, and strengthening exercises can keep your back healthy and prevent injury. Those who engage in regular stretching, resistance exercise, and balance exercises benefit from the strength and flexibility that can help them avoid low back pain. A physical therapist can help you to learn back and core strengthening exercises that will provide the support for your spine needed to stay healthy and active.

How is low back pain treated?

The first step to proper treatment is diagnosis. You will need to visit your doctor to discuss what types of tests can be performed to determine the source of your pain. If you have been injured, you may require medication or surgery before you can begin training your muscles to support your spine. Once you have been cleared for activity, a physical therapist can guide you through exercises that will help you improve mobility and alleviate pain as you get stronger. Physical therapy provides specific exercises that target the muscles and tissues that may have weakened from poor posture, injury, or poor movement. Over time, you can correct the postural and motion-related errors that have led to the pain and allow you to perform activities without pain.

What kind of outcome can I expect from treatment?

Depending on the source of your pain, your motivation can allow you to recover quickly or slowly. Most patients can recover from low back pain that is related to muscular tension within six weeks of starting a well-designed program of physical therapy.

If you are experiencing low back pain, let Move Better help you to get better and return to your favorite activities with our Back Pain Physical Therapy! Call us today at (434) 817-0980 to get started.