Low Back Pain (LBP) is the most common type of pain experienced by people in the United States. It contributes significantly towards growing health care costs and overutilization of the medical system through invasive surgeries and prescription pain medication. Patients with low back pain that is acute and chronic are routinely referred for extensive diagnostic tests or given opioids as the first line of action.
Clinical Procedure Guidelines for Low back pain clearly states that low back pain that is nonspecific and non-life-threatening (cancer, tumor, progressive neurological decline) should be treated conservatively with non-pharmacological therapy. Nonpharmacologic therapies include exercise, interdisciplinary rehabilitation, and cognitive‐behavioral therapy (Chou et al. 2007).
Fritz, Brennan, and Hunter (2015) found that patients with low back pain experienced less invasive surgery, injections, Emergency Department visits, and lower healthcare costs if their primary care provider referred them for conservative treatment including physical therapy. It is important to note that non-specific low back pain is a self-limited condition that resolves itself in the majority of patients through exercise and therapy which can help hasten the recovery process.
In many cases, patients with chronic low back pain associate their pain with damage and injury to their spine and they develop a belief that reinforces and promotes fear and avoidance of activities that result in pain. There is a growing body of evidence that indicates that persistent low back pain is influenced by social, psychological, and emotional factors along with biological. This indicates that a treatment plan should be different for every individual and take into consideration their activities and goals that can be effectively formulated during therapy that will set them up for success and improve their quality of life.
Maintaining a strong core for patients of all ages will prevent back problems or resolve ongoing back issues. This includes yoga, pilates, weight training, hiking, and walking. It is important to understand that regular physical exercise of any kind will help in the management of low back pain.
A sedentary lifestyle, weight gain, sitting in a sustained posture for more than 25 minutes, daily repetitive movements, and sudden lifting of heavy items without using your leg muscles (the strongest muscles in your body) are some of the many factors that can contribute to the onset and continuation of low back pain.
Factors such as stress (emotional and physical), sleep deprivation, mental health, poor nutrition, and social isolation can affect a patient’s perception of pain experience and may prolong recovery for LBP. It is essential to consider all of the above-mentioned factors when confronting and overcoming low back pain symptoms.
When treating my patients for LBP I always reinforce the concept that “Motion is lotion for the body” and their treatment does not stop at the clinic but must continue through their daily movement patterns along with exercise. This will allow them to get back and enjoy their quality of life in all their activities.