Physical Therapy Treatment Guide to Lower Back Pain

Ask yourself this question- have you ever suffered from lower back pain? For most of us, the answer may be yes. While the pain may vary from a mild dull ache in the lower back to a severely restricting pain, it has happened nonetheless. Recent studies prove that 8 out of 10 individuals worldwide suffer from lower back pain at least once during their lifetime. It also happens to be one of the most common reasons for absenteeism from work.

You may feel the pain around the back extending down the hips, sometimes, even till your legs.  It may stop you from performing activities of daily living that involve bending, lifting, twisting, or continuous activities. Often, the pain is accompanied by numbness and/or tingling in either or both legs, and in severe cases loss of strength or sensation in the lower limbs. Back pain often limits people’s ability to work and may even lead to depression.

What are the Causes of Lower Back pain?

Pain in the lower back occurs because of multiple reasons. A recent injury to one of the structures in the back may be a result of sudden heavy lifting, twisting, or bending. A chronic injury happens time and again due to repetitive activities that strain the structures in the back. The intensity and the severity of low backache depend on the mode of injury as well the extent of injury.

Sometimes back pain may also occur as a result of other medical conditions such as infection, malignancy, inflammatory diseases, arthritis, or as pregnancy-related backache. A preliminary physical examination by your doctor will help them understand the possible causes for your lower back pain.

What happens during Lower Back Pain?

Your spine is made to withstand all the stresses of your day to day activities. The bones, the joints, the muscles, the ligaments, the tendons, and the intervertebral discs all work together to support your body and allow it to move the way you need it to. A sudden strain or injury on any of these structures compromises their ability to support and allow movement.

Knowing which structures are responsible for your pain is crucial for effective relief from lower back pain. The first step of diagnosis is a physical examination by a clinician, an orthopedic, or a physical therapist. This preliminary examination will help your doctor identify the best course of treatment for you. Once your doctor finishes the physical evaluation, they may suggest further diagnostic investigation to aid your treatment.

How Physical Therapy Helps in Relieving Lower Back Pain?

A physical therapist diagnoses your lower back pain and suggests a personalized treatment approach that gives you satisfactory relief from pain. Since the back pain has a high chance of recurrence, physiotherapy helps you maintain a pain-free lifestyle and prevent possible recurrences in the future. The first step is ensuring you are made aware of what back pain is, what your treatment options are and how to go about getting treatment.

The focus of physical therapy is to bring relief from pain, to improve your ability to perform day to day activities, correct your posture, and prevent recurrence of back pain. Since back pain requires a multi-faceted treatment approach, physical therapy engages a combination of treatment methods. The treatment is personalised to you so that you get a satisfactory reprieve from the pain. Here is how physical therapy helps in relieving lower back pain:

Machine-based Therapy

Physical therapy engages machines like Interferential therapy (IFT), Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and ultrasound therapy to reduce pain. Each machine is uniquely adept at targeting the structures causing back pain. They are effective in reducing pain and inflammation.

LASER Therapy

LASER therapy uses a specific wavelength of energy to reduce back pain, and begin the healing process. It reduces muscle spasm in the back and stimulates regeneration of the structures in the back. It also improves blood circulation around the injured area so that there is accelerated healing.

Chiropractic for Back Pain

Chiropractic treatment uses spinal manipulation and mobilisation for the treatment of back pain. Chiropractic treatment helps in restoring range of motion at the joints in the back and improve their function. It also helps in reducing nerve irritability and improve the movement of soft tissues around the spine.

Decompression Therapy

Decompression therapy helps in reducing the pressure from the spine, particularly the intervertebral discs. It is a motorised decompression that reduces the pressure over the spinal structures. This allows the structures to heal and improves the exchange of nutrients at the site of injury. 

Exercise Therapy

Exercises are selectively prescribed for you to help in relieving pain. They reduce stress from the structures in your back that may be causing your symptoms. Nerve gliding exercises help in reducing tension at the nerves and reduce radiating pain. Progressive strengthening exercises increase the strength and endurance of muscles around the spine.

Ergonomics

Ergonomics helps in ensuring you don’t strain your back during routine activities. Lifestyle modification to improve the way you sit, stand, walk, bend, and work improve the way you function. They also help in preventing recurrence and help in maintaining the relief you receive from the treatment of back pain.

Conclusion

The duration and intensity of physical therapy treatment vary from person to person and is prescribed according to your needs and lifestyle requirements. Physical therapy also helps people (suffering from back pain) with higher physical demands like those of athletes or people with highly active lifestyles.