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“Living With” Low Back Problems

Many of us think low back problems are just something we have to “live with” so we try to push through the pain. However, physical therapy can be extremely beneficial for resolving our lower back pain thus greatly improving our quality of life.

When it comes to this condition, the number one complaint is pain and stiffness which gets worse when you stand, walk or are in one position for a prolonged period of time. Some people also experience radiating pain in to the buttock/legs or into the mid back. The pain can range anywhere from a mild nagging pain to a severe pain that will greatly limit your mobility.

Majority of people with lower back pain often have difficulty walking prolonged distances, standing, sleeping, bending, lifting, or twisting. Driving can also be very challenging, especially if you are experiencing radiating symptoms down your leg.  In more severe cases, you can start to experience numbness and weakness into your feet due to nerve compression.

So what causes lower back pain?

Lower back pain can stem from many different sources in the spine. One of the most common causes is degenerative changes that can occur in the vertebrae and discs which will restrict your normal mobility and put abnormal stress on the muscles and ligaments of the spine. Degenerative changes can also put increased pressure on the nerves that exit small holes between the vertebrae. This will result in muscle spasms in the back and hips and radiating pain or weakness into the legs.

Disc herniations are also a common cause of lower back pain. These can cause significant inflammation and result in muscle spasms, stiffness and radiating pain.

Weakness of the muscles that surround and support the lower back is very common and often contribute to accelerated degenerative changes and put you at risk for disc pathology. These muscle imbalances can also cause your lower back pain to become chronic and “nagging” causing you to start to slowly modify your normal life style.

How is lower back pain treated?

There are many treatments for lower back pain and physical therapy is one of the most successful options. Physical therapy can help in the following ways:

  • Identify the exact source of your pain and address mobility and strength deficits that will allow you to have lasting pain relief.
  • Improve the mobility of the joints and muscles of the lower back
  • Improve flexibility
  • Resolve muscle spasms
  • Improve your muscle strength and balance of the hip, core, and back musculature

Radiating symptoms into the hips and legs can be completely resolved with specific movement patterns and exercises. Full strength in your legs and ankles can be restored returning you to your prior level of function. Your movement patterns, body mechanics, and gait will be evaluated and addressed with emphasis on improving spinal mechanics and decreasing stress on spinal structures with daily activities. These physical therapy interventions will help alleviate your pain and result in a full recovery getting you back to your active lifestyle.

By: Abbey Fecher, DPT

At LSTC, we will fully evaluate your low back and associated symptoms and help restore your full function and get you back to your normal lifestyle.


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