Do you periodically find yourself disabled by bouts of back pain? Do you experience ongoing back pain that never gives you a moment’s relief? Whatever form it may take, chronic back pain can put all kinds of limits on your life — until you finally start taking the necessary steps to address it head-on. But you don’t have to schedule major surgery or allow yourself to become addicted to prescription painkillers just to keep this lurking monster at bay. Conservative strategies such as physical therapy and smart lifestyle practices can help you manage your chronic pain for life. Ask our physical therapist to evaluate your conditions and recommend specific treatments!
What Is Chronic Back Pain?
If you’ve ever injured your back in a car crash, high-impact sports injury or work-related accident, you know just how bad back pain can get. As horrendously painful as that acute back pain may be, however, at least it goes away at some point. Chronic back pain hangs on long after an acute injury or other ailment should have resolved it through healing. Technically, back pain is categorized as chronic if it continues for at least 3 months — and in many cases, chronic back pain can haunt sufferers for years. This is especially true if your back pain stems from an irreversible or progressive condition.
Typical Causes of Chronic Back Pain
The first step in addressing your chronic back pain is having some understanding of its cause. Chronic back pain can be caused by many underlying issues, from an acute injury that failed to heal correctly to chronic health problems such as:
- Degenerative disc disease, a condition in which the spinal discs bulge and flatten
- Arthritis in the facet joints that mobilize your spinal column
- Chronic muscle or connective strain due to stress, overuse or repetitive motion
- Muscle knots associated with fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome and other chronic problems
- Physical or postural imbalances that lead to chronic muscle strain and soreness
- Congenital deformities such as scoliosis
- Excess weight from obesity or pregnancy
- Herniated discs that compress spinal nerve tissue
Chronic back pain doesn’t always limit itself to your back. Conditions that involve pinched nerve roots may send pain and other odd sensations into your upper or lower extremities.
How Physical Therapy Can Help You Fight Back
Don’t fall into the trap of feeling helpless against your chronic back pain. Our physical therapist can analyze your current condition to determine the exact cause of your symptoms. We can then prescribe, not just physical therapy exercises, but an entire way of living that helps you maintain optimal day-to-day comfort. Here are some tips you can incorporate into your new pain-management routine:
- Exercise – Regular physical therapy exercises to strengthen your core muscles (including the muscles of the abdomen, pelvis and lower back) can stabilize your spine and ease muscle pain.
- Change your ergonomics – Move things around in your workplace so that you can reach frequently-needed items with a minimum of stooping, bending or twisting.
- Sleep differently – Switch to a different type of mattress or adjust your sleep position to minimize nighttime (and next-day) pain.
- Pursue stress reduction – Yoga, meditation, and other stress-busting techniques can help you keep your back muscles relaxed.
- Improve your nutrition – Emphasize anti-inflammatory foods, “nature’s medicine” for chronic pain. Our physical therapist can also prescribe exercises to help you lose weight, thus taking pressure off of your spine.
Ready to learn more about how to fight chronic back pain? Contact our physical therapist today!