Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives.
Although back pain is the number one cause of disability around the world, low back pain is often improperly addressed. Too often patients are sent for inappropriate tests and treatments, including being prescribed addictive opioids. Even though recent guidelines and studies recommend physical therapy and exercises for the treatment of back pain, those are not being widely prescribed. The United States prescribes more opioids for low back pain than any other nation, to the point it has become a national health crisis. Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain. Acute back pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Back pain is considered chronic if it lasts for more than three months. Every patient is first evaluated. The physical therapist then decides the treatment plan based on the individual patient. The goals of physical therapy are to decrease pain, increase function and provide education on a maintenance program to prevent future recurrences. A physical therapy program includes stretching to improve mobility and flexibility, strengthening core muscle groups that support the low back, along with addressing proper posture. The physical therapist may focus on decreasing pain with passive physical therapy (modalities). These therapies are considered passive because they are done to the patient. Examples of modalities include: Heat/ice packs, Iontophoresis, TENS unit and Ultrasound. In addition to passive therapies, active physical therapy (exercise) is also necessary with aerobic exercises that may include walking or biking, to name a few, along with core exercises. Let your local physical therapist discuss, evaluate and treat your back pain today!