Statistics show that back pain is one of the most prevalent reasons why people visit their doctors. For people aged 40 and below, back pain is a very common illness that results in the patient’s inability to work and perform daily tasks. If that is translated into medical costs, that is about $20 to $30 billion annually in health care expenses.
Back pain is said to be acute if there is only a brief moment of pain. This usually comes on suddenly and can be treated with pain relievers. Usually the patient can get back to normal daily activities since the pain can be easily treated with pain relievers.
When back pain persists over a period of more than four weeks, it is said to be chronic. Further evaluation is required and it will focus on the assessment of the medical history of the patient. It will also include a complete physical examination for the identification of the cause of the back pain.
There are certain medical conditions that can cause back pain. Although back strain is still the most common leading cause in the United States, other causes are disc herniation, osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, spondylolithesis, infection, cancer, fracture, trauma and other non-spinal medical conditions.
Exercise plays an important role in the treatment and management of back pain. Physical therapy with stretching and strengthening exercises are part of the treatment plan. Modalities can also be applied like heat, massage and ice. Ultrasound therapy can also provide temporary pain relief.
The primary goal of physical therapy in treating back pain is to reduce it. As the pain improves, the patient can start doing exercises that can help to improve flexibility, improve posture and strengthen the back as well as the abdominal muscles. Regular exercise is great in preventing the recurrence of pain.
The physical therapist can also educate the patient on tips to prevent back pain from recurring. Correct body mechanics is the key. Good posture is needed to reduce the amount of weight or stress on the back muscles. Good posture includes standing smart by maintain a neutral position for the pelvis, sitting smart by going for a chair with a lower back support and lifting smart by letting the legs do the work.