Back & Neck Pain Relief Covington & Mandeville, LA

Back and Neck Pain

Back Pain is the most common musculoskeletal injury in the US. 61% of adult Americans have suffered back pain. Of those, 69% felt that it has affected their daily lives. The good news is that most cases of low back pain will respond well to conservative, proven treatments such as physical therapy.

Physical therapy is a cost effective first choice. It has also been shown to be effective in helping avoid being treated with narcotics. Recent studies also show that early physical therapy for low back pain significantly shortens the duration of pain.

” I don’t know how long my career would have been (without physical therapy), I don’t want to think about it.”
– LPGA golfer Natalie Gulbis, whose career was almost cut short due to back problems.

If you also have a significant loss of bladder or bowel function, or numbness in the groin or inner thigh, you should visit your local emergency department immediately. These symptoms might indicate a condition called “cauda equina syndrome,” in which nerves at the end of the spinal cord that control bowel and bladder function are being squeezed.

Signs and Symptoms of Low Back Pain

The symptoms of low back pain vary a great deal. Your pain may be dull, burning, or sharp. You might feel it at one point or a larger area. There may be muscle spasm and it might spread into your legs.

Unfortunately, most people who have experienced back pain will have at least one recurrence. Although low back pain is rarely serious or life threatening, its effect on an individual’s ability to carry out their normal work and recreational activities can be dramatic.

There are a number of conditions that may be contributing to your back pain including:

  • Degenerative disk disease
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Fractures
  • Herniated disk
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Tumors of the spine
  • Pelvic dysfunction
  • Muscle injury
  • Muscle spasm
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tightness in surrounding musculature
  • Posture or activity abnormalities
  • Facet joint injury
  • Ligament damage

How Is Back Pain Diagnosed?

Your physical therapist will perform a thorough evaluation that may include:

  • A review of your health history
  • Questions about your specific symptoms
  • A thorough examination that includes assessing the quality and quantity of your movements, and any movement behaviors that might put you at risk for delayed recovery
  • Tests to identify signs or symptoms that could indicate a serious health problem, such as broken bones or cancer
  • Assessment of how you use your body at work, at home, during sports, and at leisure
  • Assessment of flexibility
  • Assessment of strength in the muscles around the spine

For most cases of low back pain, imaging tests such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are not helpful for recovery. For example, in a recently published article comparing patients who received an MRI first vs physical therapy first for low back pain, the patients who received an MRI first spent on average $4,793 more (with similar outcomes in each group).

Our physical therapists are expert at determining if it is likely that your low back pain is being caused by a serious health condition. If so we will refer you to other health care professionals that we trust for further evaluation.

How do you know if your back pain has become chronic?

All of us have pulled a back muscle at some point, needing to spend a day or two cozied up to an ice pack and a heating pad. But when serious back and lower body pain, as well as stiffness or numbness problems, make it hard to function, you may well have sciatica.

What is sciatica?

 When nerves in your lower back become pinched or compressed, the resulting pain, tingling and numbness affect your back, buttocks, groin and legs. Often, you’ll feel it on one side only.

Several underlying causes can result in this nerve compression in your lower back. In most cases, it’s a bone spur or herniated disc pressing into the nerve, but sciatica has also been known to occur when a tumor grows in the area, or when there’s spinal degeneration and narrowing, which can happen with age.

What types of physical therapy treat back pain and sciatica?

Working on strength, flexibility and circulation are all crucial components to treating sciatica, back and lower body pain. Among the most common categories of treatments for sciatica in physical therapy are:

  • Low-impact aerobics, to encourage circulation of nutrients and body fluids (as well  as pain-killing endorphins) to the areas that need it most. Most aerobic activity can be done outside of your physical therapy session, including walking or swimming, but your therapist can show you methods to work around your sciatic stiffness and pain as you do so.
  • Stretching exercises, to boost flexibility. Sciatica often causes spasms, tightness and limited range of motion in your back and legs. Various moves, such as hamstring stretches and lower-back moves like the “cobra” or the sitting torso twist, will loosen muscles and boost mobility.
  • Strength building moves, to tone the tendons, ligaments and columns that support your spine. Working your abs, hips and glutes will all result in a stronger core that resists lower back pain and sciatica.

How Can We Help?

Our patients are often referred to us by their primary physicians or by a specialist, and we’ll continue to work with your medical team to treat the specific cause of your pain. Our highly trained physical therapists will also give you a full evaluation, including a spinal alignment assessment, simple tests to evaluate muscle strength in the areas that support your back and lower body, and range-of-motion evaluations.

We can help improve or restore mobility and reduce low back pain fast—in many cases, without expensive surgery or the side effects of medications.

  • Stay active, and do as much of your normal routine as possible. It is important to note that bed rest for longer than a day can actually slow down your recovery.
  • If your pain has lasted more than a few days or has been getting worse, schedule a complimentary consultation with us so we can help get you relief fast.

To get started on your back pain and sciatica relief treatment plan, call our dedicated team of physical therapists today.

 

Sources

  • http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sciatica/physical-therapy-and-exercise-sciatica
  • http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sciatica/basics/symptoms/con-20026478