If you have low back pain, you are not alone. About 80% of adults will have at least one episode of low back in their lifetime and many adults suffer from recurring episodes of low back pain. Injury to the low back can also result in symptoms that extend far beyond the back. It is possible to have symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling, and/or weakness that travels into the legs.
Just because low back pain is common does not necessarily mean that it is “normal” or “just something you have to live with”. Physical therapy can help to treat a current episode of low back pain as well as address strategies to prevent recurrence of future episodes of pain.
What causes low back pain?
Low back pain can be caused by a specific trauma such as falling, being in a car accident, or lifting something heavy. Most frequently, however, low back pain is caused by the accumulation of many tasks we do throughout our day to day lives such as sitting at a computer or household chores.
How is low back pain diagnosed?
Although many people have the misconception that an x-ray or MRI is required to find the root cause of low back pain, physical therapists are adequately trained to perform a functional assessment and identify an appropriate course of treatment. This is true for both individuals that have had a recent onset of pain or those that have had chronic symptoms of pain.
What can physical therapy do to treat low back pain?
There are many different treatment approaches for low back pain; however, one of the most effective is the McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT). MDT focuses on finding a mechanical cause of low back pain and prescribes complementary exercises to alleviate pain and improve mobility. One of the most unique aspects of MDT is the emphasis on teaching the patient to be self-sufficient in the management of symptoms. This requires patients to learn a series of simple exercises to be repeated throughout the day as well as make postural corrections to alleviate pain.
Once symptoms of pain have been reduced or resolved, your physical therapist can address limitations in strength or flexibility and advise how to safely return to all regular activities.