Are you one of the many people who suffer from back pain? If so, it may help to understand what may be the underlying cause of your pain. The low back, which supports most of our body weight, is one of the main areas of complaints when it comes to back pain. Low back pain can be caused by numerous conditions, such as, muscle strains, ligament sprains, degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, arthritis, vertebral fractures, nerve conditions, skeletal irregularities, or tumors. The most common of these causes are muscle strains and ligament sprains, which usually results from excessive stress being placed on the back from lifting with improper technique, sudden twisting or awkward movements, or sudden jerking of the back such as in a car accident.
Low back pain can present itself in varying forms and intensity levels. It can be sharp, dull, achy, or burning as well as brief or ongoing. The type of pain associated with your back pain can help you understand the primary cause of your pain. Acute back pain is sudden and can last for a few weeks. If you experience back pain longer than three months it is considered to be chronic. Most back pain will resolve on its own over time, however if it does not get better within a few weeks or you start to experience numbness, tingling, changes in bowel or bladder function, fever, or weight loss, you should contact your doctor.
Although low back pain varies from person to person it can make everyones normal daily activities difficult. Some activities that may be affected by low back pain include
Standing or walking
Lying on your back with a few pillows under your knees to place your knees and hips in a bent position can help relieve strain on your back. Most people can find relief from back pain with the use of medication, hot packs, ice packs, massage, or physical therapy.
A physical therapist will do a thorough evaluation to find the origin of your back pain and create a personalized treatment plan to help you return to your normal daily activities. The type and description of your back pain can be important to help determine your course of treatment. As part of your treatment physical therapist may use moist heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, massage, traction, or ice to help decrease pain and tenderness. In addition, you will be instructed in various exercises to help increase your core muscle strength and restore your motion. A physical therapist will also educate you about the proper lifting, pulling, and pushing techniques to alleviate some stress on your back.
The State of Maryland is a direct access state, which means that patients are able to refer themselves to a physical therapist without a referral from a physician. However, your insurance company may or may not require you to have a referral depending on the type of plan that you have.