Relief Is Possible
Are you part of the 80 percent? Roughly 80 percent of Americans experiences back pain during their lifetime. If that includes you, you need to know that getting relief from back pain is possible. When it comes to back pain treatment, Midland Physical Therapy can assist you in finding your best options.
“Oh, my aching back!”
Not all back pain is alike so not all back pain treatments are alike. Before we devise a custom treatment plan for you, we will assess the specific type of back pain—upper, general or lower back pain—as well as uncover the cause of your pain.
We never make assumptions about the cause of your back pain. Although we can make a few generalizations regarding back pain treatment, such as strengthening back muscles helps alleviate pain, the specific strengthening and stretching exercises can differ depending upon the cause and location of your back pain.
That’s why you need to consult a qualified physical therapist rather than seeking relief from back pain on your own. The course of treatment that worked for your neighbor might not be appropriate for treating your back pain. Even when you have previously suffered from back pain, if your symptoms are different, or the pain is in a different part of your back, you should still consult a physical therapist before launching on a course of treatment. The wrong treatment can be worse than no treatment.
The Anatomy of Pain
The spine, comprised of vertebrae, runs the length of your back and beyond. Your vertebrae are divided into five types, three of which run through your back: cervical vertebrae or the seven vertebrae that make up the neck; thoracic vertebrae or the twelve vertebrae associated with the ribcage and mid region of the back; and five lumbar vertebrae, which make up the lower back. The sacrum and coccyx are the base of the spine.
The symptoms of upper back pain range from numbness, weakness or tingling to loss of motion. Common causes for upper back pain include pain that originates in the neck, shoulders or ribs as well as the upper back itself. Pain can be caused by:
- Poor posture
- Poor body mechanics
- Nerve damage
- Or a combination of these
Even carrying heavy shoulder bags and backpacks can cause upper back pain.
Less obvious causes of upper back pain are problems with your heart or gall bladder. Physical therapists are trained to differentiate among the origins of your pain and ensure that you receive the proper medical attention and intervention.
Once your upper back pain is properly diagnosed, Midland Physical Therapy can design a customized treatment plan to provide you relief from back pain. There are a number of exercises specific to strengthening the neck and shoulder muscles along with stretching exercises. We encourage you to learn these exercises from a physical therapist in order to avoid further injury.
General Back Pain
Symptoms of back pain typically include muscle aches, shooting or stabbing pain, or limited range of motion. Although these symptoms are common and can often be treated successfully with over-the-counter pain relievers. We advise that you to see your doctor under these circumstances:
- You start having back pain for the first time after age 50.
- You have a history of cancer, osteoporosis, steroid use, or drug or alcohol abuse.
The most common conditions that can lead to back pain include:
- Muscle or ligament strain. You know when you have lifted something too heavy or lifted it improperly. You know when you have injured yourself playing sports.
- Spine-related conditions. Bulging or ruptured disks press on the nerves in the spinal column, resulting in pain. Abnormal curves in your spine, such as scoliosis, can lead to back pain. Osteoporosis can lead to compression fractures in your spine, creating pain.
Exercises for alleviating back pain include both those that strengthen your core as well as those that increase your flexibility. We can’t stress enough that simply watching exercise videos aren’t enough to teach you proper technique. You need the one-to-one assistance of a physical therapist to ensure that your technique is correct because performing an exercise incorrectly can do more harm than good.
It’s always a good idea to consult with a physical therapist when beginning a new exercise regimen. We can put together a targeted back pain treatment plan that will get you the results you want.
Describing your symptoms accurately to your doctor or physical therapist will go a long way toward getting the right diagnosis. Many general symptoms can lead to different causes and back pain treatments, depending on the details. So it’s helpful for you to provide the fine distinctions in the pain you feel. These are some of the symptoms and their subtle differences you should document:
- Is your pain acute or a dull, aching pain?
- Does your pain shoot down your leg to your foot?
- Does your pain get worse after sitting for a long time?
- Does your pain lessen after you get up in the morning and move around?
- Does your pain lessen when you shift your position?
The more information you can provide your therapist the better able he or she can pinpoint the cause of your pain. That information will get you the appropriate back pain treatment you need.
As with most back pain, you can experience either acute or chronic pain. Acute pain can be severe following an injury but is frequently resolved within a few weeks as the injury heals. Chronic pain continues unabated even after the initial injury has healed.
Muscle strains and sprains are the single most common cause of lower back pain. This pain can come on suddenly, as when you twist while lifting a heavy object or when you suffer a fall. Repetitive movements over time can also result in lower back pain as well as poor posture.
Chronic lower back pain can involve any number of causes. They include: a lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, curvature of the spine, or compression fractures.
The first goal in treating lower back pain is to alleviate your pain sufficiently so you can participate in physical therapy. Any number of pain medications can help; the best one for you depends upon your general health and your doctor’s recommendation. A regimen of applying heat or ice to the lower pain can provide relief.
A second goal of back pain treatment is to prevent further injury. Ideally, you will be able to maintain your ability to function without pain. Your treatment plan will likely involve a combination of manual therapy and exercise. Typically, your physical therapist will include strengthening, stretching and low-impact aerobic exercises.
We Have Your Back
Physical therapy is the cornerstone of back pain treatment. If you are seeking relief from back pain, schedule an appointment with us today. We will get you in right away and one of our highly qualified physical therapists will consult with you to determine the source of your pain and design a back pain treatment plan exclusively for you.
Your therapist will instruct you in proper technique for each exercise and keep you motivated along the way. We will work with you for whatever time it takes to alleviate your back pain. Back pain isn’t something you should just learn to live with. Call us and get started today on your road to pain-free living.
For Further Information
Please check our website for additional information on back pain treatments and to learn more about Midland Physical Therapy’s staff. You and your back will thank you for it.