What can PT do for my Back Pain?
Back pain is a common problem with 70-80% of all people experiencing back pain at some point in their lives. It is also one of the most costly problems to treat for the patient in terms of physician visits and time/pay lost from missed work days and possible surgery. For employers, the costs are high if an employee injures themselves in terms of worker’s compensations, time/productivity loss from missed days of work. As a population, the 5% of people with back pain disability account for 75% of the costs associated with back pain. Once a person has had a bout of back pain, the likelihood they will have another bout increases 50%, and increases exponentially with each subsequent episode.
But, there is good news! You can prevent most back pain, and if you have already had issues with your back, you can reduce the risk of another episode. The answer is physical therapy! Physical therapists are trained to identify the cause of the back pain and to provide treatment to reduce pain, restore normal function, and prevent future bouts of costly pain.
Common causes of back pain:
(You can also read our blog post: “What’s in a Disc” for more information.)
- Prolonged sitting at a desk/standing at a work station
- Repetitive lifting
- Bending over to pick something up
- Combined bending,lifting, and twisting motions (loading groceries into the trunk of a car)
- Lawn care/gardening
- Poor footwear choices (flip-flops, high heels)
- Pregnancy (For back pain related to pregnancy, please be sure to visit our pregnancy plan page.)
- Trauma- car accident, fall from a height, sport injury (being tackled)
Signs and Symptoms indicating a problem at the low back
- Pain with bending
- Radiating pain, numbness, or tingling into the buttocks, hips, thighs, or lower leg.
- Catching the toe frequently while walking (foot drop)
- Inability to walk on the toes
- Early morning stiffness or pain in the spine.
- Inability to squat and return to stand without using the hands
What to do if you have back pain:
- See your physical therapist as soon as possible!
- Lay flat on your back with the knees/feet elevated
- Apply ice to the painful site for the first 48 hours.
- Apply moist heat for 10-15 minutes every 2 hours after the first 48 hours.
An appointment with your physical therapist at the first sign of back pain can help prevent the pain from becoming worse and missing out on the activities you love. Your therapist will evaluate you and identify the cause of the pain, whether it is from a muscle spasm or disc protrusion. They will provide treatment for reducing pain, improving strength, and preventing further episodes of back pain through instruction in proper posture and body mechanics during everyday tasks.