Back Pain Therapy
Your body depends on the spinal column for structural stability. The shoulders, rib cage and pelvis are anchored to the spine for strength and support. You also depend on the spine for mobility – the ability to twist, bend and flex your body for different activities. The spine is constructed of 24 jointed bones, or vertebrae, stacked from pelvis to the skull in a gentle “S” curve. Between the vertebrae are spongy discs that cushion the bones and bond the stack together. Pairs of bony projections, called facets, connect the rear of each vertebra to form a series of interlocking joints. The column is wrapped tightly in ligaments and supported by muscle.
Your “Bad” Back
It is estimated that 80% of Americans will have back pain at some point in their life. By far the most common site of back pain and injury is the lumbar region- the lower back. Your lumbar spine bears the brunt of bending, stooping, sitting and worst of all, lifting. Low back pain usually emanates from degenerative changes to the lumbar discs. With aging, the resilient disc material dries-out, shrinks and loses some of its “spring”. Under the stress of lifting, coughing, sitting improperly or bad posture, the deteriorated disc can bulge or even rupture, spilling its spongy pulp into the surrounding space.
This herniated disc can press on the adjacent nerve root. This irritation can cause pain, numbness and tingling, or painful muscle spasm. Loss of disc thickness can also cause wear and arthritic enlargement of the facet joint, constricting the space between the vertebrae leading to abnormal pressure on the nerve.
How Can Physical Therapy Help Your Back?
The licensed physical therapist brings a unique perspective to caring for your back pain. The patient is the most important participant in the healing and prevention process. It is, after all, your back. And whatever treatment you receive from others, it can’t overcome treatment you give your back, day-in and day-out. Your physical therapist will involve you in your care, teaching you to be, in a way, your own therapist. So as you go about the routine of daily life, you’ll be healing yourself, not causing re-injury. It all starts with a careful evaluation, followed up by therapy and education.