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National Physical Therapy Month – Low Back Pain

National Physical Therapy Month – Low Back Pain

Low back pain (LBP) is the leading cause of activity limitation and work absence throughout much of the world. A National Health Interview Survey reports about one-fourth of the US adults report low back pain (LBP) in the past 3 months. Current circumstances, modern lifestyle changes, and shifts towards more sedentary work will only increase the risks for LBP. Suspected risk factors include individual and activity-related factors.

A study showed that only 47% of subjects who were experiencing LBP had actual abnormalities such as disc degeneration, disc bulging or protrusion, facet hypertrophy, or nerve root compression in their imaging studies. There are also high rates of false-positive findings on imaging studies, that is asymptomatic subjects showing abnormal findings. Current literature does not support a definitive cause for initial episodes of LBP therefore it is important to learn how to prevent initial or reoccurring LBP due to poor movement mechanics. That is the ability to use efficient alignment and stabilize the lumbar spine in various postures and movements. These could be simple everyday activities such as tying your shoelaces, sitting at work, transitioning from sitting to standing, or more advanced movements such as lifting or push-pull actions. Finding an efficient alignment will naturally let weight be evenly distributed in the spine and into your base of support to prevent shearing of the vertebrae, it is crucial to be able to maintain this stable alignment against external forces.

A Physical Therapist can identify, assess, and retrain your alignment, mobility, strength, endurance, habitual posture, body mechanics, and functional capacity. Working with a physical therapist to identify existing patterns and replacing them with more efficient ones is what will benefit you in the long run. It will allow you to learn the principles of a solid foundation on how to take on an active role of self-responsibility in your spinal health. Guided exercises will enable you to recruit appropriate muscles in an efficient sequence and prevent substitution and compensation. This learning process includes repetition and positive feedback to influence your kinesthetic awareness until you can automatically initiate these motor strategies and provide dynamic stabilization during repetitive and loaded activities. Only then are you protected.

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