Chronic back pain leads many people to consider surgery or addictive painkillers to deal with the problem. The depression that can accompany serious, long-lasting back pain can lead people to think that. But what if surgery or opioids didn't need to be a part of your story? If you've been thinking about surgery to finally feel some relief, contact High Desert Physical Therapy today to find out how working with a physical therapist can be a possible solution to your chronic back pain.
What is Chronic Back Pain?
Back pain is fairly easy to define: It's a pain that a person experiences in their back, usually along the spine or in the muscles attached to the spine. "Chronic back pain," however, is pain that lasts for longer than 12 weeks. The person's back might feel better or worse during certain times of day, but the pain is always there and it's always debilitating. It can interfere with work or even cause people to struggle with simple day-to-day tasks.
Causes and Symptoms of Chronic Back Pain
Sometimes patients and their doctors know exactly what caused the back pain to originate. The patient usually had a work-related accident or a traffic accident in which their back was injured. However, a 2014 article in the journal Clinical Radiology noted that in 90 percent of cases, the source of the back pain is unknown. In most cases, back pain develops on its own over time, without that "one incident" that injured the person's back.
The main symptom of chronic back pain is right in the condition's name: Intense pain in the back. Other symptoms include limited mobility; you may not be able to twist and turn your body like you were once able to. Getting up out of a chair or even out of bed in the morning can be an excruciating experience. Lifting even light objects can cause the pain to intensify.
3 Ways Physical Therapy Helps Chronic Back Pain
There's a substantial amount of medical literature which proves that physical therapy can help chronic back pain to resolve. Is "living with the pain" working out for you? Probably not. Working with a physical therapist is a proven method for improving the symptoms of chronic back pain. In many cases, the need for surgery can be alleviated and patients will no longer need to rely on painkillers, if they follow through on the physical therapist's recommendations. Here are three ways physical therapy helps chronic back pain.
- Active Physical Therapy: Your physical therapy plan will involve specific exercises and stretches, which is known as "active" physical therapy. Your physical therapist has years of training and hands-on experience working with chronic back pain patients. This won't be like training for a title fight. The exercises will specifically strengthen muscle groups that support your back and core. The stretches will be geared toward helping your body regain the mobility and flexibility you have lost as a result of the pain.
- Passive Physical Therapy: Physical therapy isn't just about exercise. "Passive" physical therapy involves non-physical treatments which help to relax the muscles and deliver pain relief. For chronic back pain, this can involve hot and cold packs applied to painful areas, electrical stimulation of the muscle structures, and more.
- Long-Term Support: It takes time to alleviate chronic back pain through stretching, exercise and other therapies. If you try to do it on your own, it's easy to get discouraged and give up. Your physical therapist is there to provide emotional and psychological motivation throughout the journey, until your back pain is a distant memory.
If you've been suffering from chronic back pain and think that surgery might be the only way to help, call us first to schedule a no-risk appointment with a physical therapist.