Low back pain is the number 1 most common orthopedic injury. Whether you are a gardener, dancer, gymnast, weight lifter, construction worker, office worker, or physician, you may have at some point in your life felt a twinge in your back.
It’s important to pay attention to the aches and pains that may arise and protect your back to ensure a long healthy career and to prevent the injury from progressing.
Where did the back pain come from?
This is a complex question. Did the pain come from muscle or other soft tissue surrounding the spine? Did it come from malalignment in the vertebra, facet or disc problem? Is it an age issue or work related or movement problem?
When you load the spine in someone who is young, you can create stress fractures. In someone who is in their 20’s-30’s, they can be more prone to disc problems like herniations. In an older person, 50’s-60’s, repetitive activities done throughout their lives can cause wear and tear (degeneration) if incorrect mechanics are used.
I often hear someone say I only picked up a pencil from the floor and threw my back out. Well it wasn’t just that one time, but repeatedly picking up objects incorrectly that finally the back says that’s enough. For someone in their 70’s-80’s, it could be narrowing of the spinal canal from the wear and tear creating a stenosis.
Causes and Risk Factors
If you are too mobile or too rigid in the spine, compensations occur above and below. When you have too much motion in the spine, you need strength to stabilize and support the spine.
When you are too stiff in the spine, it doesn’t allow for natural movement to occur and then you strain the muscles by forcing the body to go into a position that is not available.
Every profession has its quirks. An office position is obvious – sitting creates increased pressure in the spine, a lack of core use, and too much flexion (sitting) not enough extension (standing).
A dancer/gymnast has too much flexibility and extension and not enough strength to support all the increased motion.
You need a balance of strength and flexibility, but also understand safe and correct mechanics of moving, lifting, reaching, carrying to prevent back injury.
So when should you seek help for your back pain? Well the quicker you can get in to see a specialist, the better. It is much easier to eliminate the pain and become functional again when you can “nip it in the bud” rather than waiting for weeks, months. The longer it takes to deal with the issues, the longer it takes to recover.
If you aren’t having radiating symptoms or pain that is affecting your quality of life, but know that you have had several instances where your back didn’t feel right, it would still be wise to seek attention for it so you can learn what may be causing the problem and how to correctly perform the activity that created the issue.
Physical Therapy is not only about pain relief, but more importantly about you getting your life back, learning how to prevent future or further injury/recurrences, and being educated on how to minimize your risk of injury by using correct body mechanics and movements – whether it’s in an exercise or daily activity.
You are given a treatment plan and program to work on strengthening the areas that are needed to support your spine. Prevention is the best medicine in this case, as back pain can be severely limiting. Remember to warm-up before exercising in any form (as I have written about many times), do dynamic stretches, and strengthen your core.
Already injured or not sure how to prevent an injury, we have a specialist Physical Therapist who can help you through these issues. Click here to schedule a Free 20 minute call to discuss how we can take you on your journey to recovery to being fully functional and mobile again!
To Your Health,