Lower back pain is a global health concern for both men and women. At any given time, about 7.5% or around 577 million people in the world report suffering from low back pain. In most cases, lower back pain is mild and can disappear on its own. For some, it can be more severe and lasting, leading to a decrease in mobility and quality of life. Because of the commonality of lower back pain, it’s one of the most prevalent diagnoses seen by physical therapists.
With June being Men’s Health Month, we’re taking the time to remind and encourage men to take a proactive approach to their health, including low back pain. Below, the PTs of Excel Physical Therapy share the most common causes of low back pain for both men and women and exercises to alleviate and prevent symptoms from becoming debilitating.
Symptoms and Causes of Low Back Pain
Lower back pain can be the result of many different things, including injuries, diseases, or conditions to the pelvis, back, neck, or spine. Most often, pain is from an injury to muscles or tendons in the back, but other conditions commonly linked to back pain include:
- Bulging or ruptured discs
- Degenerative disc disease
- Facet joint dysfunction
- Spinal stenosis
Pain can range from mild to severe and could feel like a dull, sharp, tingling, or burning sensation. The pain could radiate into other areas, like your legs, or can be felt at a single point. It might be accompanied by stiffness or muscle spasms. Lower back pain is typically categorized into three types:
- Acute – pain that has been present for less than four to six weeks
- Recurrent – acute symptoms that come back
- Chronic – pain that lasts three months or longer
Usually, lower back pain resolves without treatment, but if your doctor believes you are at risk for developing chronic pain, physical therapy is often recommended. These patients display ongoing pain or symptoms that radiate into the legs and are accompanied by numbness and tingling.
How Can Your Physical Therapist Help?
Before considering other more aggressive treatments for chronic lower back pain (including surgery or medication), physical therapy is utilized to decrease pain and increase function. A PT can help strengthen muscles and improve flexibility to help patients avoid another injury. Standard forms of physical therapy include:
- Passive PT – focuses on modalities like electrical, thermal, or mechanical applications
- Active PT – focuses on specific exercises and stretching techniques
Not all lower back pain is the same, so your PT will create a plan tailored to your specific symptoms and condition. They might suggest a combination of treatment options to offset your pain.
Exercises for Low Back Pain
While many believe that bed rest is the best solution for relieving lower back pain, it can actually slow down your recovery. Inactivity can make your muscles tighten up, causing more pain. Movement is the best medicine. Your PT will suggest you stay gently active, helping you get back on your feet much sooner. You can also try out these exercises for low back pain to target the affected areas:
- Lower back stretches – bridges, cat and cow pose, knee to chest, press up back extensions, and side twists
- Core strengthening exercises – partial crunches, pelvic tilts, wall sits, and hip stretches
Other options your PT might add to your treatment plan include:
- Spinal manipulations
- Activity modification
- Postural education
- Relaxation techniques
- Electrical stimulation
- Heat or ice therapy
Why Choose Excel Physical Therapy to Treat Your Low Back Pain?
By utilizing physical therapy for lower back pain, our PTs aim to restore function while teaching our patients how to best manage their current symptoms and prevent future injury. Our therapists are licensed professionals who can treat several common conditions, including low back pain. Contact an Excel Physical Therapy clinic at one of our convenient locations to schedule an appointment.