Lower back pain is one of the vital common physical complaints amongst Americans. Nearly 40 percent of adults report some type of lower back pain within the last three months, versus about 36 percent for lower limb pain, and 30 percent for upper limb pain. Back pain is one of the vital common reasons people see a health care provider, and is one of the vital common causes of work-related disability across the globe.
Is our back extraordinarily fragile? Probably not. The human spine can withstand an incredible amount of force, especially over a brief period. However it is kind of unique. Humans are rare within the animal world for our bipedalism – and we remain the one mammal species that consistently lives in a bipedal state, relatively than utilizing all 4 limbs for locomotion. This places a singular stress on our spine in that our lower back deals with more weight during our day-to-day lives than our upper back, due to the best way our spine is stacked.
Humans have evolved to walk on two legs, and our spines have largely adapted to this variation. But, as scientists indicate, there may be a very important distinction between survival and luxury.
Even our earliest bipedal ancestors had signs of potential back problems – and the longer you reside, the more your spine goes through. The conveniences of contemporary living usually are not doing our spine any favors, either. The common human in an industrialized nation spends far an excessive amount of time sitting down.
This will atrophy the muscles of the back and core, placing greater stress on our individual vertebrae, and increasing the danger of spinal problems resembling degenerative disc disease and compression fractures – especially at points of curvature, where the shearing forces between individual vertebrae (spinal bones) are at their highest.
But not all lower back pain is brought on by an absence of general fitness or blamed solely on age-related degeneration. There are countless different spinal conditions, nerve conditions, and musculoskeletal conditions that may cause or contribute to back pain.
What Is Causing Your Back Pain?
Back pain could be attributed to spinal health issues, neurological problems, injuries, cardiovascular health problems, even cancer – or all the above. Identifying the cause or causes of your back pain (and any contributing conditions) is very important for formulating an efficient treatment plan.
Your back encompasses a set of muscles, bones, and nerves. The spinal cord is found throughout the spine, which is a stacked, curving pillar of specialised bones called vertebrae. The spine is separated into the cervical spine (the neck), thoracic spine (upper back), lumbar spine (lower back), and sacrum and coccyx (hip and tailbone). Not all types of back pain are immediately linked to the spine or its nerve roots – a variety of back pain could be linked to a bruised or strained muscle or a sprained ligament.
Some common causes of back pain include:
- Sprains. A sprained ligament. These are sharp pains that always go away on their very own, with a bit little bit of rest, movement, and an over-the-counter painkiller.
- Strains. Strains are over-stretched or damaged muscles or tendons. A fall or lifting something too heavy may cause strain.
- Spinal conditions. Some conditions pertain specifically to the spine – resembling spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the nerve tunnels between the vertebrae), spondylolisthesis (a slipped or misaligned disc), or spinal fracture.
- Nerve problems. The back is home to the spinal cord, in addition to each of the body’s spinal root nerves. These branch out into the remainder of your peripheral nervous system, chargeable for the communication between the brain and the body. Injuries, nerve degeneration, or physical impingement (resembling from a close-by growth or swelling) may cause localized, radiating, and referred pain.
- Arthritic pain. Arthritis is a medical term for joint pain, and certain causes of arthritis can affect the spine as well, resembling ankylosing spondylitis, and rheumatic arthritis.
- Tumors. Each benign and cancerous growths may cause pain within the back.
- Pregnancy. A growing fetus can press on the nerves and arteries along the spine, cutting off the oxygen supply or causing pain.
- Osteoporosis. Lack of bone density can affect the structural integrity of the spine, making spinal conditions resembling compression fractures and slipped discs more common.
- Fibromyalgia and other pain conditions. These account for various chronic health issues that may exacerbate or heighten pain sensitivity, cause muscle fatigue and pain, or end in sudden acute episodes of inflammation.
A radical diagnosis is crucial. Before a health care provider can refer you to a specialist, they’ll narrow down the list of causes on your back pain through a mix of physical tests, imaging tests, and an examination of your medical history.
Can Physical Therapy Address Back Pain?
Physical therapy utilizes an individualized exercise program to assist rehabilitate a person’s mobility after an injury, improve their quality of life, and help address certain causes of pain. A physical therapy plan can do you a variety of good – even in case your pain just isn’t strictly musculoskeletal. It is because exercise in itself could be a therapeutic tool for managing and reducing pain. However it needs to be treated as a tool, relatively than a cure.
Physical therapy relies on consistency to realize results. It doesn’t replace medication, nor does it normally provide the identical form of short-term relief as direct medical intervention. Nevertheless, the long-term impact of an individualized physical therapy plan can greatly affect your pain levels over an extended period, and provide help to change into more resilient against recurring injuries or acute episodes of pain.
What Physical Therapy Can and Can Not Do for You
In case your doctor recommends long-term pain management on your recurring back issues, then likelihood is that you just will probably be seeing a physical therapist.
Having healthy, yet positive expectations of what physical therapy can do for you is very important.
- Physical therapy may also help improve your quality of life.
- Physical therapy can restore flexibility and mobility to the back.
- Physical therapy can provide help to perform every day tasks with little to no pain.
- Physical therapy can provide help to get back to work.
- Physical therapy may not address underlying neurological problems.
- Physical therapy sessions cannot compensate for a mostly sedentary lifestyle.
- Physical therapy doesn’t at all times provide immediate relief.
- Physical therapy alone will not be an adequate pain management plan.
Seek a Comprehensive Approach
Irrespective of what your treatment plan may seem like, it’s vital that it approaches pain treatment in a holistic fashion. Acute pain is one thing – but an individual’s chronic and recurring pain problems are rarely addressed by a single drug or treatment.
In lots of cases, a multimodal approach is required. That is where having an experienced and dedicated pain management team comes into play.