By Dr. Jessica Warnecke, PT, DPT, OCS
Every day, more and more people wake up to aching lower back pain. With this pain, people tend to spend way too much money relying on over the counter pain pills, on narcotics or surgery, or they decide that lower back pain is a factor of life, and choose to deal with it without seeking any treatment whatsoever and giving up activities they love. None of these options are an efficient solution.
Studies show that physical therapy, when done correctly and especially early on, can significantly decrease the amount of pain as well as the amount of time chronic lower back pain affects an individual.
Lower back pain is said to be the leading contributor to missed work days, and affects both men and women alike. Discomfort can vary from a sharp, stabbing pain to a dull, constant ache. About 20% of people that are affected by acute lower back pain end up developing chronic lower back pain, meaning their symptoms persist for three months or longer. Any range of injuries can progress to chronic back pain including sprains or strains, intervertebral disc degeneration, herniated discs, a traumatic injury, and skeletal irregularities.
Physical therapy provides treatment for all of the above situations.
A good PT uses a variety of treatments together to help eradicate chronic lower back pain including:
How does acute back pain become chronic?
When we feel pain, a very common reaction is to stop moving altogether and prevent anything from feeding into our discomfort. Over the course of days, weeks, and months this can turn into increased stiffness, loss of strength, and less mobility throughout our joint and muscle structures. This feeds into a domino effect of pain becoming more irritable with less of a stimulus.
In order to defeat this cycle, we must learn how to MOVE safely and comfortably in order to allow our brain to trust our body again.
Introducing gradual movements in varying directions allows the brain to see that there is no harmful action present and regain trust with movement. Avoiding movement will actually do more harm than good so don't fear it!
Below, is a short and simple series of exercises you can do if you're suffering from low back stiffness and want to prevent chronic pain.
By seeking treatment from a physical therapist early on, the chances of having to deal with greater limitations down the road decreases tremendously. Don’t ignore any minor aches that pop up repeatedly. Instead, take an initiative for your health and seek physical therapy as a faster, more efficient, and cheaper treatment.
Want to learn 10 simple tips to help alleviate back pain?
Request a copy of our FREE e-book: 10 Quick Tips To End Back Pain And Stiffness-Without Needing Pills Or Surgery.
Meet Your Therapist
Jessica has been in Austin, TX for the past four years. She grew up in Idaho and attended PT school at Idaho State University. She completed an Orthopaedic Residency and became a Board Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist in 2016.