While working as director of the rehab department for Twin Cities Hospital 2 years ago, I did a talk for a group of city workers that performed some labor intensive work. My topic was low back health, something that I had already spent a lot of time teaching to new employees at the hospital. I raised the question, "how many of you have low back pain?". There was well over 60 people in front of me and to my surprise, 90% of them raised their hands. So, my curiosity led me to my next question, "What do you do for it?". I had two responses, chiropractor and pain pills! I'm not here to pick a fight with chiropractors, but I will with pain pills! Lets get something straight, most low back pain is simple mechanics, muscular balance, and a little strength. The sooner you address it, the easier it typically is to fix. Pain pills will help you deal with the symptoms, but the pain is most likely to return because the underlying cause of the pain is not addressed. Often, what we find in older, chronic low back pain is tightness in the front of the hips from a lifestyle that encourages extensive sitting combined with weakness of the glutes (butt muscles) from a lack of activities that target these muscles. I cannot say this for all backs as each individual is different, but generally speaking that is something I see very often. Upon initiation of treatment by a physical therapist you should see progress within the first couple of visits and not have to sign up for 6 months. Refer also to my trigger point blog because there are also trigger points deep within the hip rotators that can mimic sciatic pain. You can crack and pop a joint all that you want, but once again, the mechanics have to be addressed at some point. In physical therapy, we incorporate soft tissue work in the form of myofascial release, massage, trigger point release etc., combined with stretching of the musculature or joint mobilizations to assist restricted joints. We follow that up with exercise to re-educate the musculature to do its job properly. Who else legally does that? We have progressed as a profession into movement specialists and continue to advance. The most recent research is starting to prove that physical therapy is more effective than surgery in some instances.
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions regarding back pain. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or set up an appointment at Sandestin Physical Therapy Services (850)267-6755.
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Scott Rusin is the Director of Physical Therapy at the Sandestin Executive Health & Wellness Center in Sandestin Resort, Miramar Beach, FL. He has a degree in Physical Therapy, is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Nike Golf NG360 Performance Specialist Powered by the Gray Institute.