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Don’t ‘Back Talk’ a Back Problem

back problems

By: Cierra Washington, ATC

Let’s go over some statistics regarding back problems. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), roughly two-thirds of Americans suffer from lower back pain, but only 63 percent actually take the steps to relieve their pain. Of those two-thirds, 69 percent said that their lower back pain affected their daily lives in many ways such as exercise (38%), sleep (37% ), work (24%), and even family time (7%). Those four activities alone make up pretty much the entire day for a lot of us. So the question becomes, why aren’t we taking action to handle our pain?

Back pain can range from sharp, excruciating pain to general discomfort. Every individual experiences different signs and symptoms, however these are the most common:

  • muscle tightness or spasms
  • sharp or dull pain
  • limited range of motion,
  • stinging or burning pain that travels to the buttocks or thigh
  • numbness and tingling
  • difficulty sitting, standing, walking, or going up stairs
  • pain that increases with prolonged activity

So how do these problems come into play? Lower back injuries can occur from something as simple as twisting to grab something off of a shelf to a more serious scenario like falling off of a ladder. Let’s cover few common causes of back pain:

  1. Soft Tissue Injuries: Soft tissue injuries, sprains and strains, are the most common cause of lower back pain. Sprains occur when there is a damage to the ligaments. Strains occur when there is damage to the muscles or tendons in the back. These injuries are often caused by things like improperly lifting an object, sport injuries, and/or sudden movements where the spine is unprotected.


  1. Disc Problems: The discs in your spine serve a few purposes. They absorb shock, they protect nerves and they assist with movement. When spinal discs are injured, they are compressed. This can cause the jelly-like center of the disc to expand and irritate the nearby nerve root, or it can lead to less cushioning and spinal stenosis.


  1. Sacroiliac Dysfunction: The “SI joint” simply refers to the lower portion of the spine, where the spine (sacrum) attaches to the hips (ilium). The SI joint helps the hips to move properly and it also acts as a transfer of weight between the lower body and the main skeleton. When the SI joint is uneven on one side, the body distributes weight differently. This leads to an increase in pressure on one side. That change in pressure can start off as a mild soreness or immediately cause sharp, shooting pain depending on how the injury occurred.

Most back problems happen because of muscular imbalances and poor body mechanics. Physical therapy can help decrease the initial symptoms and minimize pain with targeted stretching and hands-on manual therapy. Once the symptoms have   subsided enough, the next phase of therapy      involves focusing on mechanics, global and     targeted strengthening of weakened areas that may have caused the initial injury. This will help   minimize the possibility of re-injury. Once we have addressed any strength deficits, we will work with you on more functional exercises that will  ultimately help you return to your normal activities.

At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, we treat patients who suffer from back pain due to the common causes above, as well as many others! LSTC has physical therapist who perform evaluations, diagnose the problem, educate the patient on his/her diagnosis and then create individualized programs to help tailor to the patient’s goals. Call us TODAY at 703-450-4300 to start handling your back pain.

For more information on common causes of back problems, CLICK HERE.