A Physical Therapist's Response to Low Back Pain

1.1 BILLION! That’s how many search results popped up the other day when I looked up low back pain on Google. That’s a lot considering only 11 million results popped up when I looked up Cat bloopers… With all of these resources, it is easy to get lost in what may be helpful and what might be a waste of time and money. That is what I’d like to clarify today!

First of all, back pain is a HUGE category and there are many different causes or reasons someone experiences this. Again, since it is such a large category, it is easy for medical professionals (including physical therapists) to get frustrated with treating this condition and overcomplicate it themselves. I’ll admit it, I was one of the “frustrated” PTs for a while that cringed a little when a patient with low back pain was on my schedule. This all changed once we decided to simplify things…

In order to simplify things, we started asking our patients a simple question that tells us nearly EVERYTHING we need to know to start treating effectively. The first thing I ask now, and you may want to ask yourself, “Is your back pain reproducible?” Which means, are there certain movements or activities that you do that make your pain worse? This could include walking, running, doing dishes, vacuuming, getting into or out of a car, tying shoes, getting out of a chair, rolling over in bed and so on …

If so, that’s GREAT because if your pain is REPRODUCIBLE, it is REDUCIBLE. If we know what movements specifically bother you, we can find a pattern that allows us to treat the pain with incredible effectiveness, especially compared to other remedies such as injections, surgery or medications. We know that if we address the underlying CAUSE of this issue, the pain will subside as well.

One of the most common mistakes we see people make, is that they ignore their condition. Ignoring the issue typically sounds like excuses such as “my family has bad backs”, or “I’m just getting old”, or “it’s just the weather”.

The next thing we’ll often see people do is alter their pain. This typically includes things like using medications, massages, or simply avoiding aggravating activities. Altering the problem typically provides temporary relief but again does not address the underlying cause of the problem and results in symptoms to return as soon as that remedy wears off.

The final step is handling the problem, and that’s what we do when a patient comes to us. We seek to find the underlying cause so we can resolve it, and get them back to their normal life without the cost and risk of medications, injections, or surgery. The best analogy I always think about with this, is the garden hose that gets kinked. We know that if the water slows down, we just need to trace the issue back to the source, THE KINK in the hose. This is no different than what we do daily when treating back pain, we trace the issue back to its source until we are able to treat the exact cause of the issue.

If you’re in pain, and you’re ready to handle your problem rather than live with it, call a 21st Century Rehab location near you. We’d love to help address the CAUSE of the issue so you can get back to feeling normal again.

" I was in constant pain and was not able to do much of anything because of my right leg and lower back. I am now pain free and much more mobile! I am so thankful I came to 21st Century Rehab! " -Judy M.

Matt Wanderscheid, DPT

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