Advanced PT: Nagging Back Pain

HEALTH & FITNESS The Newsletter About Your Health And Caring For Your Body

NAGGING BACK PAIN?

If your back hurts, should you lie in bed or take a rest on the couch? Neither! In fact while it might feel good to take a load off temporarily, either one of these can actually prolong or even worsen your symptoms. In reality, one of the most common reasons people miss work or visit their doctor is low back pain. According to a study conducted by the American Physical Therapy Association, one third of adults surveyed say that low back pain impacted their ability to sleep, work or exercise. Yet more than half of Americans who experience low back pain have jobs that require them to sit for the majority of their day. This means the answer to pain relief is not found in less movement, but more. All you have to do is walk... American Family Physician published a study in 2015 that sheds a little light on what can happen with a little movement. Nearly 250 people who experienced chronic low back pain (pain that lasted longer than three months) or recurrent low back pain (pain that happened three or more times per year) were studied. All patients reported low levels of physical activity and 76 percent were overweight or obese. This group was then divided into three treatment protocols and evaluated for pain and mobility before and after. One group in particular was given pedometers and a journal and encouraged to walk for at least 10 minutes every day, eventually working up to 30 minutes each day. What researchers discovered was surprising. Of all of the treatment programs studied, walking was the best way to reduce low back pain and improve mobility. 

That’s not to say that you can just go for a stroll and call it good. Patients in the study were given a pedometer and a notebook to keep track of the steps they took throughout the day. They were also given the charge to take a targeted number of steps in one walk. In the study, that target started with 10 minutes every day or around 1,200 steps, gradually working up to 30 minutes per day of intentional walking. The trick was to track the number of steps and record it in a journal. Not only does the patient self-monitor their progress, it gave them a way of staying accountable for their goal. And go to physical therapy. People with balance problems or vertigo often experience a long and frustrating cycle of physician referrals, diagnostic tests and medical treatments without any real resolution to their problem. In fact, the entire diagnostic process is usually focused on what is not causing someone’s vertigo. Ear, Nose and Throat specialists will check for abnormalities in the ear, neurologists will test for neurological diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease, and chiropractors will manipulate the spine in an effort to relieve vertigo symptoms. The key to diagnosing the root cause of vertigo is actually found in the physical therapist’s office. Armed with the latest technology to diagnose and treat vertigo, physical therapists have programs to identify and treat the source of a patient’s balance or dizziness problems. Using specialized equipment, these non-invasive tests end the treadmill of specialists and expensive diagnostics.

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