Lower back pain is a common experience. We've all had it for one reason or another. As we age, it seems to be a more frequent and at times severe occurrence, especially for those of us between the ages of 30-50. No matter the reason, lower back pain can make everyday movement seem insurmountable.
So how do you deal with it?
If it's a recent flair up, and you can still manage your daily activities, you have a few options. You may be able to simply modify your activity, stretch, and alternate icing and heating your back for a couple of days. There are over-the-counter pain relievers, but you want to be careful not to rely too much on these, or for too long. If the pain grows more intense, or just won’t go away and you grow more concerned, physical therapy is highly recommended.
Physical therapy is a great first treatment option for most people dealing with lower back pain (or any kind of pain for that matter) and regardless of the causes. It had been shown to decrease the need for pain medication or even surgery. One study found that patients experienced “a lower risk of subsequent medical service usage among patients who received PT early after an episode of acute low back pain” than those who waited and sought treatment at a later time. In other words, when you experience lower back pain, your best, first bet, will be to go see a physical therapist.
A physical therapist will be able to assess your movement, pinpoint the cause of the problem, and develop a strategy for getting you back to normal. It can also be a great way to improve your strength, mobility, and health overall.
A physical therapist uses different techniques to treat your pain or rehab your injuries. Many people believe that rest and avoiding activity is the best way to recover from acute low back pain but research shows that activity can be more effective than bed rest in relieving pain and improving function. Physical therapists can identify posture issues and poor movement patterns and provide exercises targeted to strengthen these areas.
Manual or “hands on” therapy is another useful tool that therapists use. Reducing muscle tension can resolve pain more quickly and help prevent limitations from becoming more long term problems. There are even more progressive options, such as dry-needling and manipulation, that can help you recover in a safe, effective, and faster way.
Whatever technique a therapist uses, their goal is to empower you with the tools, exercises, and knowledge to build the strength and confidence you need to live your healthier and more active life.
The best way to treat lower back pain is by doing what you can to prevent it. This means maintaining a strong level of health all around. Nutrition, rest, and exercise are key components to ensure you stay healthy and prevent injuries. That means staying active as appropriate for your level of fitness.
If strenuous exercise is too much, going for walks is a great way to elevate your heart rate and build your endurance. Both of which will help improve your overall health.
Low back pain is no fun. But if left unchecked, it can lead to more severe problems. If you experience lower back pain, and you're unable to get past it, schedule an appointment with a physical therapist and let them help you craft the best treatment plan for you.
Because no one should have to live with lower back pain when there are treatment options out there. Talk with someone and get the help you need to get back to your life as normal.