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Common Sources of Low Back Pain

Low back pain is one of the leading causes of disability and lost work time among adults.

What is the low back:

Low back refers to the lumbar curvature of your spine- the last 5 segments before reaching your bum. 

Common Conditions:

  • Nonspecific Low Back Pain
    •  most common
  • Lumbar Radiculopathy 
    • Increased compression on a nerve causing burning, numbness, tingling into your glutes, thighs and/or down the length of the leg
      • The sciatic nerve running down the back of the leg is commonly impacted this way, hence the term “sciatica”
      • Not all radiculopathies are associated with the sciatic nerve

Common Misconceptions: 

  • MRI or x-ray findings are associated with your pain experience
    • Most people over the age of 25 will have some remarkable finding on an image of the spine (e.g. disc herniation, stenosis, degeneration).
    •  The fact that you have pain is not necessarily associated with the image.  Realistically, the “finding” has been present for years and you felt completely fine, so it’s extremely possible that it’s not the cause of your pain.
  • Lifting heavy weight is the cause
    • People who lift weights actually have a lower incidence of low back pain
  • Bed rest is the best treatment
    • Prolonged immobility often results in worsening pain

The Truth about Low Back Pain:

  • Acute low back pain (lasting < 3 months) tends to improve quickly
  • How you perceive your pain is indicative of the rate of recovery
    • People who receive imaging for low back pain prior to conservative treatment often have worse outcomes because they “know that the ‘disc’ can’t be fixed.”
  • Chronic low back pain (lasting > 3 months) can still be improved with conservative treatment
  • A flare up of pain does not mean that treatment didn’t work
    • Think of LBP as the common cold: when you get the sniffles, you know what to do to get rid of them
  • The more activity that you can do without increasing your pain, the faster you will recover

Why Physical Therapy, Why NOW?!

  • Low back pain > 3 months, while treatable, often requires lengthier therapy course
  • Education regarding your condition and how to manage your symptoms
  • Personalized Care
  • Increased Strength
  • Increased Mobility
  • Reduced/Absent Pain
  • Improved Body-Awareness

A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) will evaluate your individual body structure and function, determine which of these factors AND more could be contributing to your pain experience.  If the condition proves to require further medical testing, the evaluating therapist will be able to determine that and direct you accordingly.

Whenever pain is a factor, muscle groups stop working efficiently and people avoid pain provoking activities.  The result is weakness, reduced mobility, and more pain.  Waiting to get your back pain evaluated only extends the time it takes to get you back to living the life you want, participating in activities you enjoy, and being able to comfortably sit, stand, walk, run, etc. 

Time is the only thing that you can’t get back.  Spend some time with our team of therapists and athletic trainers, so that you can spend more time focusing on the things and people that matter most!

Call LSTC at 703-450-4300 to schedule your evaluation!

By Candace Harding, PT, DPT

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Beattie, Paul F. “ CURRENT CONCEPTS OF ORTHOPAEDIC PHYSICAL THERAPY (4th Edition) The Lumbar Spine: Physical Therapy Patient Management Using Current Evidence Independent Study Course 26.2.8.” Orthopaedic Section, APTA Inc. 

Park, Daniel K. OrthoInfo, 

Smith, Lori. Medical News Today, 29 Jan. 2018,

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