Low Back Pain Secrets!
Prevalence of Low Back Pain
There is an increased chance that a good portion of those reading this blog have had, or will have, low back pain. It is estimated that at any given time, about 25% of people in the United States have had low back pain within the last 3 months. A recent study by the American Physical Therapy Association showed that 61% of Americans have had low back pain at one time in their life. Out of that percentage of those that have low back pain, 69% felt that it had affected their daily activities. Since low back pain is very prevalent, I want to discuss what to do if you or someone you know has low back pain.
I have had multiple contacts on Facebook ask their friends for advice on what to do for back pain. It has been surprising to me in how little physical therapy has been listed in the comments section as a potential treatment method. This is surprising because there have been direct links proven between success of treating low back pain and physical therapy. Another recent study has shown that beginning physical therapy within 14 days of having an onset of low back pain resulted in decreased medical costs, opioid use, and the potential for surgery. This study looked at over 100,000 medical records in the military and found that receiving physical therapy in the early stages of treatment can have a great impact on the care of the low back pain.
Signs and Symptoms
Common signs and symptoms that can occur related to low back pain include sharp, dull, or burning pain in the low back region. Pain, numbness, burning, or tingling in one or both legs can also be related to low back pain. It is common that a patient will come into our clinic with complaints of hip or knee pain, and with a thorough evaluation, we find that the symptoms are related to the low back.
If you have symptoms associated to your low back pain including loss of bladder or bowel control, or numbness in the groin or inner thigh, you should seek immediate evaluation at your local emergency department.
Conditions that are related to the above signs and symptoms include:
Degenerative disc disease
Lumbar spinal stenosis
Fracture of the spine
Tumors of the spine
What can Physical Therapy do for low back pain?
During your evaluation for low back pain we review your health history and the signs and symptoms related to the low back pain. It is also very important to thoroughly look at the quality of movements related to your back. This will help show what is a cause and a relief of the symptoms.
A typical plan for physical therapy of the low back is multi-faceted. Exercises are performed in the clinic and are given to be performed at home in order to focus on a stretching and strengthening program. We put a lot of effort into manual therapy, which includes improving the mobility of the joints and soft tissue of the back. We also teach proper lifting and bending techniques. This protects the spine while performing daily activities.
Physical Therapy vs Opioids
Low back pain is often treated with the use of pain medications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that the sale of prescription opioids in the United States has quadrupled, even though the reported amount of pain has not changed. The CDC has recommended no drug approaches such as physical therapy over prescription medication. Physical therapy has been proven to be a great way in reducing pain levels for the immediate and extended future.
My goal is to continue spreading the word about how physical therapy can improve low back pain. Please let me know
Justin Longhurst, DPT
Utah Physical Therapy – West Haven