Chronic back pain is a condition that affects millions of people around the world. It affects not only our physical health but also our emotional and mental well-being. It can be challenging to manage, and many people find themselves in a constant cycle of pain and discomfort. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to make life with chronic back pain easier. Many options are available to those suffering from chronic back pain, from specialized physical therapy to lifestyle changes and consultations with doctors or chiropractors. If you are struggling with chronic back pain, here are some tips that can help reduce discomfort and improve your quality of life.
What Is Chronic Back Pain?
So, what is the difference between chronic and acute back pain? Acute back pain can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, while chronic back pain persists for three months or longer. Chronic back pain is often caused by an underlying condition, such as arthritis, herniated discs, sciatica, or spinal stenosis.
Chronic back pain is usually felt in the lower back but can also be felt in the neck or other areas. It usually comes with a dull ache or burning sensation and can come and go as it pleases. Chronic back pain can often lead to restricted physical activity, which can lead to unwanted lifestyle adjustments and mental issues like unpleasant mood changes and even depression.
Common Causes of Chronic Back Pain
There is no single cause of chronic back pain, as it can stem from a variety of conditions. However, the most common causes of chronic back pain include the following:
This is the leading cause of chronic back pain in the U.S., especially in people over 50, and can be caused by either osteoarthritis (from wear and tear on joints) or rheumatoid arthritis (caused by an autoimmune disorder).
This occurs when one or more spinal discs become compressed and place pressure on nearby nerves, causing pain. Some herniated discs can cause sciatica nerve pain that radiates down your leg to your toes.
This is a form of nerve-related lower back pain that typically originates near the bottom of the spine and radiates down one or both legs. Many times, sciatica is caused by a herniated disc.
This is a condition in which the spinal canal narrows, placing pressure on the nerve roots, resulting in pain that typically radiates down one or both legs. It can be progressive and may require medical intervention if it becomes severe.
Over-stretching, improperly lifting heavy objects, or sudden movements can cause muscle strains, leading to chronic back pain. Sprains are similar but refer to ligaments (the strong fibers connecting bones).
This is a condition in which the bones become brittle and weak, causing them to break or collapse. This can affect the vertebrae of the spine, resulting in chronic back pain.
Emotional stress can manifest itself as physical pain, including chronic back pain. Regular exercise, meditation, and other stress-relief activities may help reduce symptoms.
Chronic inflammation of joints can cause persistent low back pain that worsens with movement. Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that affects the spine and is caused by wear and tear on the joint surfaces over time.
Bad posture over time can lead to poor spinal alignment and a weakened core. Regular stretching exercises will help maintain good posture and reduce strain on your spine.
Fibromyalgia, ankylosing spondylitis, infections such as herpes zoster, and rare causes of back pain such as tumors can also cause chronic back pain.
How Physical Therapy Can Help With Chronic Back Pain
Perhaps the best way to manage chronic back pain is through physical therapy. Physical therapists can assess your condition and develop a plan of care that will target the underlying cause of your pain. There are different physical therapy methods for different types of chronic back pain.
Physical therapists may provide exercises to help stretch the muscles of your spine, improve flexibility, strengthen core muscles, and increase endurance. These exercises will help reduce tension in the affected area and decrease inflammation that can cause pain.
Your therapist at USA Sports Medicine may also use manual therapy techniques such as massage or manipulation to relieve tension in the affected area. This type of treatment works by loosening tight muscles or joints, decreasing joint stiffness, and improving mobility.
Heat/ice therapy is another form of treatment for chronic back pain. Your therapist may suggest alternating between hot and cold therapies to reduce inflammation and help with pain relief.
Heat therapy can be used to improve tissue extensibility, decrease muscle spasms, and reduce pain. Ice therapy can also be used to reduce swelling in the affected area and provide temporary relief from pain.
Active Release Therapy (ART) is a manual therapy that can help with chronic back pain. This treatment involves actively stretching and manipulating the soft tissues to reduce tension, improve mobility, and restore healthy tissue function. The therapist may use their hands or specialized equipment to perform ART on the affected area.
Dry needling uses needles and techniques similar to acupuncture to provide a beneficial response. Many orthopedic and neuromuscular conditions can be treated with this highly effective form of physical therapy. The use of dry needling is an extremely effective treatment for acute and chronic pain, decreased flexibility, joint dysfunction/restriction, and post-exercise recovery.
Minimally Invasive Treatments
Regenerative Medicine may be necessary to treat chronic back pain in some cases, but this is usually recommended only in conjunction with Physical Therapy. Regenerative treatments can help improve mobility in the affected area and reduce painful symptoms. However, it depends on the injury and should only be done after consulting a doctor.
Other Tips to Reduce Chronic Back Pain
Aside from medical treatments, there are other things you can do to reduce chronic back pain. For example, regular physical activity is important for maintaining a healthy, strong back. In addition, practicing good posture and using correct lifting techniques can help reduce strain on the affected area. Getting adequate rest and avoiding activities that could further injure your back is also important.
Finally, it is beneficial to make lifestyle changes that reduce stress levels. This includes eating a nutritious diet and getting enough sleep each night. Additionally, mindfulness exercises such as yoga or meditation can help relieve muscle tension and improve relaxation.
By following these tips, you may be able to reduce chronic back pain and improve your overall quality of life.
Ready to Get Started With Physical Therapy?
If you are in South Florida and looking to take the next step on your road to recovery, contact USA Sports Medicine in Pembroke Pines or one of our other clinics today. Our physical therapists can provide personalized treatment plans to help manage your back pain and other chronic conditions. You can stop searching online for “lower back pain physical therapy Pembroke Pines” or “physical therapy Pembroke Pines” and give us a call today to schedule an appointment.