Back pain is a terrible thing that is very common for most people. Did you know that the outside of the common cold, back pain is the most frequent reason for missed days of work? It happens to almost everyone. The good news is, most of the time, the back pain will get better on its own with a little time and over the counter medication.
But why do we get back pain to begin with? The reason is that the discs in our spine begin to degenerate and leak. This process usually becomes more frequent around 40 years of age. Sports, work, and accidents can accelerate this process of weakening the discs. The fluid inside the discs will leak out of the torn disc and onto the nerves. This can frequently cause back pain, leg pain, buttock pain, and/or tingling into the legs or feet. After the disc gets torn, sometimes the joints in the back, called facet joints, begin to become arthritic with bone spurs and collapse. These are the main reasons for back pain.
Fortunately, our bodies can usually help themselves, with a little help from us. Physical therapy is centered around this principle. Physical Therapist help us to learn how to lift, bend, work and exercise in a safe manner. Physical Therapist also teach us how to start new habits of daily stretching and strengthening so that we can be educated on how to protect our backs in the future from back pain.
Most everyone with back pain is a good candidate for PT (Physical Therapy). There are some exceptions which patient’s should know about. If the pain is too severe, or there is weakness or numbness in the legs or arms that is progressing and getting worse and worse, then sometimes PT can aggravate back and leg pain. Your spine surgeon can educate you as a patient, to understand if PT is a safe step toward relieving your back and leg pain symptoms. This is why it is important to see a spine specialist such as an orthopedic spine surgeon, to find out if PT is a safe step for you. For example, you may have more than just a torn disc. Sometimes the disc is herniated (pushed out) into the spinal canal. If the herniation is too large, then PT can make matters worse. The best test to find out if your disc is herniated is with an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Image). This special test can show the discs and nerves very clearly, and quickly determine the cause and severity of back pain, and thus allow your surgeon to determine whether PT is a good option for you.
PT teaches stretching and strengthening exercises that will hopefully become part of each patient’s daily routine. When these exercise regimens are done on a daily basis, the incidence of back and leg pain is significantly decreased. This hopefully helps patients to avoid surgery, and let their bodies heal themselves. Your orthopedic spine surgeon will help you determine if PT is a safe option for you.