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Back Pain And Your Best Options

Back Pain

Jan 26, 2023

Submitted by:
Tim Abraham
Ivy Rehab
760 Bloomfield Avenue, West Caldwell
(862) 202-6718

Are you suffering from low back pain? You are not alone. 8 out of 10 people in America suffer from low back pain, so the question becomes, “what is the best course of action”?

Taking medications such as Advil or Tylenol or obtaining diagnostics such as an X-ray or MRI allows healthcare providers to determine what conditions are occurring in the spine objectively. However, imaging and medication have repeatedly displayed a lack of improving and reducing back pain consistently. Spine pain is one of the most challenging conditions to diagnose and treat, resulting in many people suffering from chronic pain or pain lasting longer than six months.

What is causing your back pain? 

The vertebral spine is a series of stacked joints which makes diagnosing the cause of pain sometimes tricky. Creating an individual treatment plan becomes challenging without understanding the true nature of an individual’s pain. The most important part of reducing back pain is evaluating what the possible causes may be coming from and addressing those issues.

Most back pain is mechanical in nature or responds to specific movements and exercises to increase and decrease pain. 

Studies consistently support physical examination as one of the best ways to assess and reduce back pain, often providing more information than expensive and time-consuming diagnostic imaging and testing. 

Movement examinations can identify:

  • Joint obstruction, such as a disc
  • Excess stress on tissues or muscles around the spine
  • Structurally impaired tight tissues

A structured physical examination provides the individual with specific movement preferences, which guide the prescription of exercises to treat the spinal conditions successfully. Your therapist will also take the time to assess the possibility of other causes of back pain, such as cancer, fracture, rare conditions, infection, or nerve compression, that would require further medical evaluation.

What is a physical or movement examination? 

A movement or mechanical examination completed by a skilled physical therapist is the front-line method of choice for improving back or spine pain. Often, you’re able to see a physical therapist without a prescription. 

Step 1 

Your therapist listens to and obtains a detailed history of your pain’s signs, symptoms, and patterns.  

Step 2 

Your therapist then obtains baselines and examines if your pain changes with specific movements. When working with a certified McKenzie or movement-based physical therapist, the response you note with these movements allows your therapist to sub-classify your pain into a movement category. This helps the therapist build a truly individualized program and forecast the likely course of action and time needed to feel better.    

Step 3 

Work with your therapist on improving limiting factors and pain by completing the correct movements and avoiding positions that can worsen the pain. This may include exercises to:

  • Improve range of motion
  • Build strength
  • Reduce pain, tingling, or numbness in your leg, or
  • Hands-on techniques to assist the patient when required.  

Step 4 

Learn how to reduce, maintain, and sustain the benefits and pain reduction yourself.    

Other options  

Because X-rays and MRIs often show positive findings in patients without pain, we cannot rely solely on imaging to assist patients with getting back to normal. Medications do not usually treat the cause of pain, and prolonged rest has been shown to increase disability and time off from work. Seeing a physical therapist who can assess movement patterns and provide individual treatment that reduces back pain saves people time, money, and possible adverse side effects from medications, getting you back to your goals sooner.

To schedule an evaluation with a physical therapist, call the location nearest you or request an appointment online.

Article by Fannya Manchak, PT, MSPT, CCCE, Cert. SFMA-1, DN, SportsMetrics and Jeffrey Vaisberg PT, DPT Cert. MDT, SFMA, CWC.

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