Physical Therapy and Back Strain

Back pain affects roughly 80% of the population in one way or another at some point during their lifetime. It appears in many forms and has the potential to disrupt your everyday life. Back strain is generally related to nerve and muscular problems, arthritis and degenerative disc disease.

Generally back pain is felt in the lower back and buttocks and although the pain can be severe it is not always  serious. Studies have shown that people who undergo physical therapy shortly after noticing the problem have reduced symptoms and often recover completely.

Work is often the cause of back strains or injuries and because of this thousands of claims for back injury compensation related to back problems are filed against employers yearly.

As most people know back pain can be caused by a number of things, these include but are not limited to:

1. Injuries

This is the single largest cause of back pain. An injury is usually caused by using muscles in your back that you normally would not. An example of this would be lifting a heavy weight or doing the gardening.

Tripping, falling a small distance or even stretching over exuberantly may incur some minor back pain and discomfort. A severe back injury could be the result of a car accident, a direct blow to the back or a high energy fall onto the buttocks. Back Injury compensation is increasing due to the number of accidents that happen in the workplace.

2. Lifting

People who lift/ move objects as part of their job often find themselves developing back problems. The objects do not always need to be heavy as lifting even a small weight numerous times or objects with a non conventional grip/ irregular shape can cause strains on your back.

3. Incorrect Posture

Discomfort and pain in your back especially the lower back may be the consequence of incorrect posture, such as sitting incorrectly at your desk. This is due to your body being unable distribute your weight around adequately and therefore places pressure on the disks and muscles. Changing the way that you are seated will often relieve you of the discomfort within a short period of time.

Most of us have been told that rest is the best remedy for back problems and although this is relatively true, 3 days of bed rest can often make the situation worse. It is advisable that you should remain active without straining or lifting heavy objects. If you feel that your symptoms are too severe or that you are not noticing any improvements, it is generally a good idea to visit your G.P and start thinking about physical therapy.

Physical therapy is a treatment generally offered to people who have developed an injury or have a disablement. It is usually used as a treatment before a more aggressive and even surgical route is taken. It is practiced all over the world and is offered by a majority of sources such as hospitals and fitness and rehabilitation centres.

Physical therapy has been around since 460BC and involved massages and therapeutic rubs. Now as you can imagine as time as progressed so has P.T and treatments such as hydrotherapy involving movement in water are now widely available to those who need it. Physical therapy has been proven to improve mobility, reduce pain and create a better standard of living in a wide variety of scenarios.

As physical therapy has a very wide scope of available treatments It would be impractical to list and explain all of them. The more common types of P.T include:

Passive physical therapy (modalities), this often involves heat and cooling treatments. An example of this would be a heat pad being applied to the affected area to warm the muscles before stretching. An ice pack may also be used to sooth muscles and aid in there recovery after exercise.

Active physical therapy focuses on movements and exercises specific to the area of the body affected. For instance someone who is suffering with lower back pain may work towards building their core muscles.

Core muscles are based in the abdominal region and play a part in supporting the lower back. Active physical therapy would place an emphasis on building these muscles without putting a strain on the lower back which should improve or even eliminate symptoms and discomfort.

Physical therapy is supported by a multitude of studies and articles performed worldwide and although certain strains and pains will often improve on their own, PT actively plays a part in reducing the amount of pain encountered and improves mobility. Continuing with an ongoing physical therapy programme should reduce the chances of the strain reoccurring.