Last time, we examined the lower back pain, we went over the causes and symptoms of lower back pain. This time, we will discuss physical therapy options for lower back pain and methods of prevention.
When lower back pain is persistent or interferes with normal activities, a visit to a physical therapist may be necessary. When you go to a physical therapist, he or she will perform an initial evaluation on the first visit. Be prepared to move around quite a bit, so be sure to wear comfortable clothing and make sure that your lower back is accessible.
An initial evaluation will consist of several different parts. First, a history about your present problem will be taken. Be prepared to discuss your symptoms and what activities or positions make your symptoms better or worse. Some special questions will be asked to help the therapist determine the nature of your problem and to discover anything that needs immediate medical attention.
The physical therapist will also take measurements of how you are moving. This may include measurements of your range of motion and strength. A postural assessment will also be included in the initial evaluation. From the results of the evaluation, a specific treatment plan will be devised and started. It is important to remember to be an active participant in your treatment and ask questions if you are unsure of what to do.
Prevention Methods of Lower Back Pain
- Core exercises. Strong core muscles are important to provide support for the lower back and avoid injury. Lower-impact cardiovascular exercise—like exercise walking—increases blood flower to the spine, which supplies healing nutrients and hydration to the structures in your lower back.
If exercise seems impossible to you, make small goals to slowly get yourself moving, such as going up and down your stairs 3 times in a row, walking with a friend, or sitting on an exercise ball for 20 minutes.
- Correct posture. Poor posture places pressure on your back and can cause degenerated discs to become more painful. Support the natural curve in your lower spine by using an ergonomic chair and set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to check your posture as your work throughout the day. Make sure to get up and walk around at least once an hour if you sit most of the day. If you can, use a standup desk for at least part of the day.
- Correct heavy lifting. Even if you're young and strong, you can still injure your lower back if you lift a heavy object incorrectly. If you don't know the proper technique, ask your PT.
- Intelligent athletics. No matter how fit and athletic you are, a wrong move could injure your lower back. Make sure you understand the potential lower-back pitfalls of your favorite sport.
- Overall physical health improvement. The spine reflects the overall health of your body. Anything you can do to improve your overall physical fitness and general health will benefit your lumbar spine as well—including drinking lots of water, minimizing or avoiding alcohol, eating an anti-inflammatory diet (or less inflammatory), and stopping smoking.
It is also important to get enough deep, restorative sleep, as too little sleep can lead to back pain and/or worsen an existing back condition.
- Defensive driving. Frequent traveling in a plane or car can take a toll on the lower back due to long periods of sitting. Frequent car travelers are also more likely to be involved in car accidents, so being a defensive driver is an important measure to take to avoid them. Serious back injuries can result from a car accident. A good defensive driver will always have a plan to get out of potentially bad situations on the road.
- Hamstring stretches. An often surprising cause of lower back pain is tight hamstrings. Simple hamstring stretching exercises can help decrease the pressure on the pelvis and provide relief across the lower back. Because not all exercises are appropriate for all injuries, a physical therapist or doctor first will specify which exercises are correct for the individual patient. Even then, modifications may be necessary, depending on the specific needs of the patient.
If you are experiencing back pain, don’t wait for your family physician; visit Excel Rehabilitation Services on Burnside Ave. in Gonzales, Louisiana. You will receive one-on-one care from an experienced physical therapist!
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