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Tigard Physical Therapy

Tigard Physical Therapy

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Low Back Pain: Causes and Treatments

posted on March 31st, 2017 under Low Back Pain

Overview

Everyone experiences back pain at some point in his or her life. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans experience low back pain at any given time. Also known as Lumbago, low back pain is the leading cause of disability in the United States, and the second leading reason for physician office visits. The good news is that most causes of back pain are not serious, and are easily treatable.

The low back is a complex structure of bone, muscle, tendons, discs, and blood vessels. Spine Health lists the most common causes of low back pain and related symptoms as muscle or ligament strain, disc injury (such as a herniation), or an irritated joint. Sports and lifting injuries, and other accidents like a fall or car crash, can also initiate the onset of back pain. Sometimes even a simple movement – such as bending over or twisting to the side – can injure the spine. Less common causes of lumbago include fracture, tumor, or inflammatory arthritis.

Acute Low Back Pain

Acute injuries like muscle strains usually last 1-3 weeks. These injuries respond well to 1-2 days of rest, use of heat or ice to control symptoms, and over the counter medications such as Ibuprofen. Physical Therapy can also help relieve pain and muscle spasm, as well as the use of modalities like:

    – Heat and Ice
    – Ultrasound
    – Electrical Stimulation
    – Manual Therapy: Massage, Myofascial Release, or Joint Mobilization and Manipulation
    – Dry Needling
    – Cupping

When acute pain has subsided, beginning a gentle core-strengthening program will help stabilize the area to prevent future injuries. Regularly stretching tight muscles will also help alleviate any remaining discomfort. Your Physical Therapist will prescribe an exercise routine suited to your needs, and teach you proper body mechanics (how to move and lift) to minimize future strain.

Chronic Low Back Pain

Low back pain is considered chronic when symptoms last longer than three months. Chronic pain is commonly caused by a tear in the disc, arthritis of the facet joints (osteoarthritis), or degenerative disc disease. This type of pain responds best to an exercise program that is set up by your Physical Therapist specific to your body’s needs, and dependent on the structure that is generating the pain. Modalities and manual therapy are also helpful to reduce symptoms.

When to see your Physical Therapist

If you suffer an acute injury of the low back, treat it with plenty of rest, heat or ice, and over the counter medications to reduce symptoms. If you are not feeling significantly better after three days, please call to schedule an appointment for an evaluation. Your Physical Therapist will do a thorough exam, and let you know whether physical therapy will be helpful for you. She will discuss treatment options with you and develop a plan of care. Treatment is usually commenced at the first appointment.

If you suffer from chronic back pain, an evaluation by your physical therapist will help determine whether physical therapy would benefit you.

Tigard Physical Therapy and Massage offers times early and late in the day to accommodate work and school schedules. We are usually able to offer same or next day appointments.

Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain

Your Physical Therapist may prescribe a core-strengthening exercise routine to help with low back pain. She will teach you the correct form and body mechanics so you can practice these exercises on your own.

When to see your Primary Care Physician

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should see your PCP as soon as possible or go to the emergency room:

    – Changes in bowel or bladder habits such as unusual constipation, or involuntary loss of urine or stool
    – Neurological symptoms like numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs
    – Severe back pain accompanied by abdominal pain
    – Back pain that is getting worse despite rest and home remedies
    – Back pain that occurs from an injury such as a fall or a car accident
    – Sudden onset of mid or upper back pain, especially if you are at risk for osteoporosis
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