By: Dr. Carleigh Rosenburg, PT, DPT
If you’re reading this post, it’s likely you’ve had back pain at some point in your life. In fact, the CDC reports that in the United States, 25% of the population could say that they’ve had low back pain in just the last 3 months. Back pain can be generally divided into 3 categories based on when your pain started:
Acute Back Pain: Pain lasting less than 4 weeks
Subacute Back pain: Pain lasting somewhere between 4 and 12 weeks
Chronic back Pain: Pain that has been going on for more than 12 weeks
Low back pain has a major economic impact in the United States, with total costs exceeding $100 billion per year. Our country is currently undergoing an opioid crisis, with about 20% of people on a long-term opioid prescription developing an addiction. One of the ways to battle this crisis is to treat low back pain with non-invasive, conservative treatment before resorting to pills and surgery. In the remainder of this post you will be provided with tips for managing low back pain. Before we continue, if you are experiencing groin numbness, lack of control over your bowel or bladder, or sudden major muscle weakness in your legs, please see a medical professional as soon as possible (preferably go to the ER) as these are signs of a medical emergency.
Tips for Managing Low Back Pain
Doing 150 minutes of exercise per week, or about 20-30 minutes of exercise a day, can greatly reduce pain by increasing blood flow and strengthening your body and spine. Not to mention, exercising this amount each week has been shown to improve mood, aid digestion, improve sleep, and improve overall health. Exercise also helps your body release Endorphins, which are known to reduce depression and reduce pain levels.
Stretching can help to lengthen your muscles and relieve tightness that can cause pulling on your low back. Stretches should generally be held for 45-60 seconds for 2-3 reps each stretch on each side when applicable, and done about 2-3 times daily.
Bent Over Table or Counter Stretch
Cat Cow Stretch: These can be held 5-10 seconds each position, alternate positions for a total of 10 reps ea.
These glides can be helpful when you are having chronic sciatica symptoms, like radiating pain down the back of your leg, with possible numbness or tingling. Be cautious, or perform under the guidance of a PT, if your sciatica symptoms are acute or less than 2 weeks old. To perform the glide like in the picture below, start in a slumped over position with a curve in your low back. Then with your toes pointed towards you, kick your leg out and bring your head down. Hold 1-2 seconds, then return to starting position. Repeat 20 times on the symptomatic side. This helps to glide the nerve along through muscle and other tissue to allow for smoother movement and can reduce the nerve symptoms associated with sciatica.
Lastly, PT is a great option for managing low back pain. Your clinician will be able to assist with classifying your back pain and helping you find the best resources for your specific ailments. You'll be given a personalized home exercise program in addition to the manual therapy and prescribed exercise you’re given at the clinic. Direct access allows you to see a PT first before going to your doctor, which can save you time and money and cut out expensive imaging that isn’t always necessary!
If you're in the Capital District, New York region and are in need of Physical Therapy or have any questions or concerns as a follow-up to this article, feel free to reach out to us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also offer free Phone and in-person consultations!
Learn more at: www.thegreenroompt.com