What Does It Mean To Have Chronic Back Pain?Back pain by itself is pretty simple to understand. It is pain a person experiences in their back, usually along the spine or in the muscles attached to the spine. “Chronic back pain,” however, is a little different and in some cases, much more serious. Chronic back pain is pain that lasts for longer than 12 weeks. A person suffering from chronic back pain might say that their back feels better or worse depending on what time of day it is, but the pain is consistent and always debilitating. This kind of pain often interferes with a person’s ability to work and can even cause people to struggle with simple day-to-day tasks.
Recognizing Chronic Bain Pain and What Causes ItThe main symptom of chronic back pain is intense pain in some area of the patient’s back. Other symptoms might include limited mobility; you may find yourself unable to move your body like you were once able to. Even simple tasks that you once never thought twice about, such as getting up out of a chair or out of bed after waking up can be an incredibly painful experience. Lifting even light objects can cause the pain to intensify. Maybe the patient received a work-related accident or was in a car accident in which their back was injured. It could be that a patient was injured while lifting a piece of furniture too heavy for them to carry. Sometimes patients and their doctors know exactly what the root cause of the back pain was. In a majority of cases, back pain develops on its own over time, without one specific event that injured the person’s back. In fact, a 2014 article in the journal Clinical Radiology notes that in 90% of cases, patients can’t quite place the source of their back pain.
Three Ways Physical Therapy Can Alleviate Chronic Back PainIt’s not a secret that physical therapy is a great way to treat chronic back pain, in fact, there’s a substantial amount of medical literature out there proving just that. Ask yourself if “living with the pain” is really going to work long-term for you. If the answer is “no” then understand that working with a physical therapist is a proven method for improving the symptoms of chronic back pain. Oftentimes, the need for surgery can be alleviated and patients won’t need to depend on prescription painkillers if they follow through on the physical therapist’s recommendations. Here are three ways physical therapy helps chronic back pain.
- Passive Physical Therapy: Exercise isn’t all physical therapy is made up of. “Passive” physical therapy involves non-physical treatments which can help relax a patient’s muscles and bring relief from their pain. With chronic back pain, this can involve hot and cold packs applied directly to affected areas, electrical stimulation of the muscle structures, and more.
- Active Physical Therapy: Your physical therapist has years of training and hands-on experience working with chronic back pain patients just like you. Your physical therapy plan might include specific stretches and exercises. This technique is known as “active” physical therapy. These exercises are great for strengthening the muscle groups that support your back and core. The stretches will be geared toward helping your body regain the flexibility and mobility you have lost as a result of your chronic back pain.
- Long-Term Support: Physical therapy takes dedication and patience. It takes time to alleviate chronic back pain through stretching and exercise, and it’s easy to get discouraged if you try to do it on your own. Your physical therapist is there to help you by providing emotional and psychological motivation throughout your treatment journey, until your back pain is a thing of the past.
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