It is estimated that 8 out of 10 adults will experience at least one bout of debilitating lower back pain at some point in their lives. Often, the exact cause of the pain is not clear–that is, non–specific. Symptoms can vary widely, from sharp, burning, or dull. It may occur in a single spot, or may be more spread out over a larger area. It may travel into 1 or both legs, sometimes going into the foot (feet). This pain is generally classified into 3 types: 1) Acute (pain lasting less than 3 months); 2) Chronic (pain lasting longer than 3 months); and 3) Recurrent (acute symptoms return). Generally, most individuals who experience an episode of acute lower back pain will have at least 1 recurrence.
CAUSES OF NON-SPECIFIC LOW BACK PAIN
There are several conditions that may be related to an episode(s) of low back pain. These include:
- Sprains/Strains (“pulled muscle”)
- Herniated Disc (often called “slipped disc”)
- Degenerative Disc Disease (“arthritis”)
- Spinal Stenosis (pain with standing and walking, relief with sitting or lying down)
- Sciatica (pain into 1 or both legs)
- Sacroiliac Joint (“SI” joint–pain on one side of the back around the hip joint).
DO I NEED DIAGNOSTIC TESTS? (e.g., X-ray, MRI, CT scan)
Your first course of action should be to have an evaluation by a Physical Therapist, as we are the experts in the musculoskeletal systems. A thorough evaluation will include: 1) a detailed medical history; 2) any questions you may have about your specific symptoms; 3) a thorough head-to-toe evaluation to assess functional movement, strength deficits, and postural abnormalities that may be putting you at risk for delayed recovery; 4) additional tests that could identify signs or symptoms that could indicate a more serious problem, including fractures, tumors, infection, or cancer (these are generally found in only 3% of the adult population). Based on these findings, most imaging tests (X-rays, MRI, CT scan) are not necessary and do not aid in determining a diagnosis or recommending a course for recovery.
HOW CAN PHYSICAL THERAPY HELP ME TO GET RID OF MY LOW BACK PAIN?
Most often, Physical Therapists can relieve your low back pain and help you return to the activities you love without medications, injections, or surgery. Treatments are tailored to meet your individual needs and goals, and may include:
- Manual Therapy (e.g., mobilization, soft tissue massage, spinal manipulation)
- Therapeutic Exercises, designed specifically for increasing flexibility and strengthening
- Education, specifically designed to include do’s and don’t’s, proper bending and lifting techniques, and home exercises specific to your condition.
If you are experiencing low back pain that lasts longer than 10-14 days, call me at (302)691-9055, or email me at to set up your FREE 30-minute no obligation Discovery Visit to determine how I can help get you back to enjoying the activities and lifestyle you have been missing out on. Don’t wait–if you need some more help with back pain please call my clinic at (302)691-9055, or request my free information report which shows the 14 ways to ease back pain by clicking on the report.