Most Americans will suffer temporary back pain at some point in their lives. When back pain is not temporary, however, it becomes a major quality of life issue. The good news is that you don’t have to live with back pain permanently. Taking a proactive approach like working with a physical therapist can help you find back pain relief at long last. Contact us for more information on how physical therapy can relieve your back pain.
Types of Back Pain
There are three main types of back pain:
- Acute Back Pain: Acute back pain is the most common type. This is a temporary pain that goes away in less than three months.
- Recurrent Back Pain: This occurs when acute back pain goes away for a while, but then comes back periodically.
- Chronic Back Pain: If back pain lasts longer than three months without subsiding, it is classified as chronic.
Back pain is usually not serious and will resolve on its own. Recurring pain and chronic pain, however, can be a sign of a more serious health problem. There is a broad range of potential physical conditions that could be causing your back pain, which include osteoporosis, degenerative disk disease, a herniated disk, fractures or lumbar spinal stenosis.
Diagnosing Back Pain with a Physical Therapist
Your journey with a physical therapist will start with a discussion of your symptoms. Your therapist will also review your medical history for any past injuries or illnesses that could be contributing to your current pain. Your physical therapist will also conduct an exam to assess how you are able to move and function as a result of your back pain.
The diagnosis phase will also involve some tests to find symptoms of more serious conditions. If your physical therapist suspects that there is a serious health condition contributing to your back pain, you will likely be referred to a specialist for more testing. In most cases, this will not be necessary.
Physical Therapy for Back Pain
Once your back pain has been diagnosed, a personalized course of physical therapy will be outlined for you. Treatments for back pain will vary based on the diagnosis, your age, weight, physical ability and other factors. Your course of treatment may include any of the following:
- Stretching and strength building exercises
- Manual therapy and spinal manipulation to improve joint mobility and relieve tissue pain
- Education on how to take better care of your back, such as proper methods of lifting, bending, sitting and sleep positions
- Hot or cold treatments, or electrical stimulation, for pain relief
- Posture work to provide better support for your back
Physical Therapy Strategies for Back Pain
Over the course of your work with a physical therapist, your progress will be monitored to ensure that you are recovering. The goal is to eliminate the back pain so that you can live a normal life. A big part of working with a physical therapist is that you will learn strategies for movement and carrying out daily tasks in ways that will prevent the pain from recurring.
For example, your therapist will show you proper posture techniques while you are at home, at work or enjoying leisure activities. You will also learn how to keep up a regular exercise regimen to keep your supportive muscles strong, which will prevent the back pain from coming back. If your weight is contributing to your back pain, you will learn nutritional advice in addition to exercise to control your weight and keep back pain at bay.
The key is to be proactive in standing up to your back pain. If the pain lasts longer than three months, it probably won’t go away on its own. Schedule your first appointment with a physical therapist.