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A Message of Hope For Chronic Low Back Pain Sufferers

Do you feel as if your chronic low back pain has locked you out of your own life? This nagging, excruciating symptom can stem from a variety of underlying causes, in some cases growing progressively worse from day to day until you can hardly move at all. Even with these awful limitations, however, you may be understandably wary of subjecting your back to the risks of major surgery. The good news is that you may not need to go to such extremes, you may just need to incorporate physiotherapy exercises and stretches, and manual therapies into your daily routine.


How Back Pain Becomes a Chronic Problem


Most people, it seems, are no strangers to back pain. Low back pain, in particular, plagues an estimated four-fifths of adults at some point or another. Few of these issues are related to acute injuries such as auto accidents, sports accidents, or workplace injuries caused by improper lifting practices. As these injuries heal themselves, the pain is supposed to fade away. In other conditions such as pregnancy, back pain disappears after the baby is born and the body resumes its normal weight and spinal alignment. Most of these particular causes of back pain are short term – it persists from a few days to a few weeks.


Many times, however, back pain can develop into chronic misery. Chronic back pain is defined by pain lasting for 12 weeks or more. About 20 percent of people who have back pain will have it develop into chronic back pain with persistent symptoms. Chronic back pain ranks number three for the most burdensome conditions for Americans. Conditions such as spinal arthritis, spondylolisthesis, or spinal stenosis do not heal themselves, leaving you with constant or recurring pain. Other kinds of chronic back pain occur due to repetitive motion injuries and soft tissue strain. Poor workplace or sports ergonomics, weak back muscles that don’t support a normal posture, or musculoskeletal irregularities such as fallen arches can place your upper or lower back in a state of ongoing agony.


Many back pain sufferers are rightfully apprehensive about the prospect of taking large numbers of painkillers, which may reduce their pain temporarily while creating its own long-term complication. Individuals may be even more concerned to undergo a major spinal surgery such as vertebral fusion, a procedure which may leave you considerably more limited in your range of motion, prove completely ineffective against the pain, or possibly even make the pain worse.


Three Most Significant Complaints With Low Back Pain Sufferers:

  • Debilitating pain that restricts movement

  • Significant lost days of work

  • Cannot live an active lifestyle and socialize

Most Common Low Back Pain Diagnosis:

  • Intervertebral disc degeneration: occurs when the intervertebral discs in the spine lose their integrity and no longer act as a cushion between vertebrae.

  • Herniated or bulging disc: occurs when the discs become compressed and bulge outward.

  • Sprains and strains: caused by tears in the connective tissue due to sharp twisting motions, lifting improperly, or overstretching.

  • Radiculopathy: caused by injury, inflammation, or compression of the spinal nerve root, which can also occur with a herniated disc.

  • Sciatica: a type of radiculopathy due to compression of the sciatic nerve, which can cause a burning or shock-like pain that radiates down the leg, or may cause numbness and weakness.

  • Traumatic injury: can occur from falls, car accidents and sports, causing damage to the ligaments, muscles, and tendons that accompany chronic back pain.

After researching the primary source(s) for low back pain seen in patients, and applying the fundamentals of biomechanics, kinesiology, anatomy, and physiology, the diagnosis for a large majority of lower back pain can be determined as dysfunction of the neuromuscular communication, chronic inflammation in the region, and severe muscle imbalances.

There is hope – Physiotherapy Could Hold Your Answers


The foremost way to fight chronic back pain is by restoring anatomical alignment and functionality — and the preeminent way to do that is through targeted stretching, various manual therapies, and specific exercises to strengthen weak abdominals and reduce lumbar tension. The goal of physiotherapy is to decrease back pain, increase function and mobility, and provide education to avoid future recurrences. A functional, individualized therapy prescription typically has two components: passive treatment and active treatment.


Passive treatments consist of massage therapy, vibration therapy, Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM), contrasting temperature therapy, cupping therapy, and stabilization techniques. Active treatments consist of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (functional stretching) and targeted exercises. The combination of therapies are designed to restore muscle balance and blood flow, increase flexibility, inhibit overactive muscles, and stimulate underactive muscles to repair any neuromuscular disconnect.

Possible Solution(s) For You!

Repeated motion

If the problem stems from irritation or pressure on a nerve from a disk bulge or spinal stenosis, a repeated movement program may help. With these conditions, pain often travels down the leg and there may be numbness, tingling and weakness, which is often worse than the back pain. A bulging disk occurs when a portion of an intervertebral disk presses on nearby nerves, whereas spinal stenosis occurs when the small spinal canal, which contains the nerve roots and spinal co

If we can minimize the pain in the leg with one of two types of motion, it means the patient probably falls into the repeated motion category. If pain worsens with bending forward, movements that involve anterior decompression may help relieve pressure on the nerve, often called McKenzie exercises. If pain is lessened with bending forward, movements aimed to decompress the posterior facet joints relieve the pressure on the nerve roots of the spine.


Stabilization

A treatment option for nearly all low back pain patients involve stabilization exercises. These specific exercises are for individuals who move their spine in ways that deviate from normal or experience pain with certain movements, such as turning over in bed or getting up from a chair – which often happens when the stabilizing muscles of the spine become weak or are not firing properly. Individuals with low back pain often have a difficult time engaging the correct muscles. When deep spinal muscles weaken, the surrounding muscles become overly active in an attempt to stabilize the spine, causing inflammation, pain, and tightness. The goal of stabilization exercises is to stimulate the deep muscles, utilizing the correct abdominal and spinal muscles prior to integrating a progression of movements to properly stabilize the spine.


Manipulation/Mobilization

For individuals who experience chronic tightness or stiffness in the low back, a specifically designed mobilization or manipulation therapy may provide the much needed temporary relief. Chronic tightness or stiffness can result from a variety of causes, including osteoarthritis, chronic inflammation, or severe muscle imbalance. With manipulation, the practitioner uses short and rapid thrusting movements over a joint while the body is in a specific position. Mobilization uses similar positions, but the technique is slower and gentler and often uses specialized tools or vibration to restore blood flow to an injured region.

It might be a combination

It is important to understand the natural course of low back pain. While there are distinct conservative treatments, an integrated protocol of rehabilitation, utilizing a combination of therapeutics, decidedly improves outcomes. Oftentimes, prescribed therapies originate with a form of mobilization therapy prior to incorporating stabilization exercises. An individual may continue to have periodic episodes of back pain, but there is often greater recovery with each occurrence. The combination of therapies are designed to alleviate pain, reduce the frequency of episodes, and assist patients with self-management of future bouts.


Whether the cause of your lower back pain is from a degenerative condition, strained muscles, or an unbalanced body – the goal is to improve your quality of life and help you perform your daily routine. You may benefit from an individualized physiotherapy program that includes:

  • Various forms of spinal decompression to relieve pressure on spinal disks

  • Strengthening exercises to help you enjoy better spinal support and maintain proper posture

  • Flexibility exercises to gently and carefully extend your pain-free range of motion through inhibition of overactive muscles

  • Stabilization exercises to help keep your spinal components in place as you perform everyday tasks (from sitting in a chair to getting out of bed)

  • Contrasting temperature therapies to relieve tissue pain and regional inflammation

  • Soft tissue therapies to mobilize tight muscles and connective tissues

  • Lifestyle changes to prevent unnecessary strain due to awkward movements or severe muscle imbalances

Time to take BACK your quality of life!


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