Discover Relief for Your Aches and Pains Today
Chronic back pain is a pain that lasts for three months and is longer. This type of pain can occur for a variety of reasons, including spinal arthritis, aging, disc problems, and myofascial pain syndrome.
With spinal arthritis, the slow thinning of the cartilage inside the spine can result in pain. With a herniated or bulging disc, compression may occur around your surrounding nerves, resulting in pain. With spinal stenosis, there is a narrowing of the spine, which can lead to nerve pain. With myofascial pain syndrome, you may experience unknown muscle tenderness and pain.
Whatever the cause of your back pain, it doesn’t have to be a part of your daily life.
What can physical therapy do for my chronic pain?
If your back pain is caused by spinal stenosis or a bulging disc, a physical therapist may initiate a targeted movement program to reduce numbness, pain, or weakness. Progressive movement exercises such as McKenzie exercises may be included in your physical therapy program to treat a wide range of causes of back pain.
Stabilization exercises to retrain deep muscles may also be included. Your physical therapist will also show you how to use the right spinal and abdominal muscles before starting any exercise to stabilize the spine. Manipulation is another technique for alleviating back pain where short and rapid movements are performed over the joint to reduce pain and increase mobility.
Physical therapists also use multiple passive modalities to reduce chronic back pain. Heat and cold therapy may be used to increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain. Ultrasound is another common passive modality used by physical therapists that incorporates deep heating sound waves that penetrate soft tissue.
Not only does this method relieve back pain, it aids in healing of the affected area. A physical therapist may order a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit. This unit helps to overcome the painful signals sent to the brain. It can be used both at home and in the long term. Deep tissue massage is another common therapy for back pain. This manual method increases oxygen and nutrients to the affected areas for healing and also helps reduce muscle spasms and stiffness.
According to the NCBI, “In chronic low back without serious pathology, recommended primary conservative physical treatment preferences include exercise, yoga, biofeedback, progressive relaxation, massage, manual therapy, physical therapy and interdisciplinary rehabilitation. A recent literature review with meta-analysis in patients with chronic lower back pain found moderate- to high-quality evidence that McKenzie exercises in physical therapy were superior to other rehabilitation interventions in reducing pain and disability.”
What else should I know?
As stated by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke,
“While acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself, chronic pain is different. Chronic pain persists. Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years.
There may have been an initial mishap — sprained back, serious infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain — arthritis, cancer, ear infection, but some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage. Many chronic pain conditions affect older adults.
Common chronic pain complaints include headache, low back pain, cancer pain, arthritis pain, neurogenic pain (pain resulting from damage to the peripheral nerves or to the central nervous system itself), psychogenic pain (pain not due to past disease or injury or any visible sign of damage inside or outside the nervous system).
A person may have two or more coexisting chronic pain conditions. Such conditions can include chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease, interstitial cystitis, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and vulvodynia. It is not known whether these disorders share a common cause.”
Chronic pain affects every person differently. In many cases, the pain continues long after the body is healed from the injury or surgery.
The good news is that physical therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach to pain relief. Your physical therapist has many tools and techniques at their disposal to help relieve and overcome chronic pain.
Chronic pain has a number of symptoms associated with it, apart from the fact that it lasted more than three months.
Here are some of the symptoms commonly associated with chronic aches and pain:
- Decreased activity: Inactivity due to chronic pain can cause your muscles to weaken and shrink. This can have profound physical effects over time, such as impacting your sense of balance.
- Decreased circulation: Remaining inactive due to chronic pain reduces your circulation, which means your cells are not receiving a healthy amount of blood and oxygen. This can cause tissues to degenerate and leads to feelings of constant fatigue.
- Avoiding activities: People with chronic pain become fearful of normal activities. The fear of additional pain can cause people to withdraw from normal physical activities that they enjoy.
- Stiffness: Muscles and joints may feel stiffer when suffering from chronic pain.
- Increased weight: People with chronic pain may put on too much weight, which can lead to a host of added problems, from diabetes to heart disease.
Ready to find relief?
If you have chronic back pain, it’s time to take action. Schedule a physical therapy assessment today. Your physical therapist will work with your doctor to develop a personalized treatment plan for your specific condition.
With both active and passive treatment methods, you will be on the road to pain reduction or even elimination. At the end of the road, you will be able to move about your daily life with reduced or no pain in your regular activities!