Published: Jan. 25, 2012
Updated: Jan. 25, 2012
There are many treatment options available for low back pain and physical therapy (PT) is one of them.
Low back pain is an ache or discomfort in the area of the lower part of the back and spinal column. The lower spinal column consists of many small bones that surround and protect the spinal cord and nerves. Low back pain is very common, affecting most adults at some point in their lives.
Pain is usually localized in the low back. It may worsen with sitting, standing, bending, or twisting. If a nerve is irritated, the pain may extend into the buttock or leg on the affected side, and muscle weakness or numbness may be present.
Physical therapy can be effective at treating the symptoms associated with back pain such as loss of range of motion, strength, and difficulty performing daily and work related activities.
PT can also help prevent future episodes of back pain by teaching core strength exercises, helping to maintain flexibility and demonstrating proper body mechanics (called “ergonomics”).
Your physical therapist will conduct a thorough examination and assessment and work with you to develop goals to help you improve function. A physical therapist is considered a movement specialist and is licensed by the state.
Most likely you will be given a series of exercises to treat your specific symptoms. In addition, a physical therapist will educate you on ways to use your spine properly while sitting, standing and lifting.
Treatment options include:
The flexibility of several key muscle groups of the spine, hips and lower extremities impact the normal movement and healthy function of your spine. These muscle groups are:
In general, stretching should be performed gently. The stretch should be held for 20 to 30 seconds and repeated several times and on each side of the body if appropriate.
Your body’s core muscles support and protect your spine. These muscles groups include hip, pelvic, abdominal and back muscles. Your physical therapist will work with you to identify the specific exercises needed strengthen the core muscles, and will instruct you in the proper techniques to safely start and progress with this program.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. This can be broken up in shorter bouts of exercise, like brisk walking.
Proper ergonomic design and practice is helpful in preventing injuries. Ergonomics involves being aware of proper sitting, standing or bending positions and safe lifting techniques. Ergonomics can involve equipment to assist with computer work, like a keyboard tray, an ergonomic mouse or an adjustable chair.