Identifying Low Back Pain Causes…an Exercise in Futility for Most

Identifying the cause of your low back pain is usually difficult, but physical therapy is a universal solution to address most cases

When it comes to low back pain, there is an abundance of alarming statistics available that can help put the massive size of the problem in perspective. Here are a few key examples:

  • Low back pain is currently the number one cause of disability in the world
  • Every year, about 37% of the world’s population will experience low back pain
  • At any given point in time, about 540 million people are affected by low back pain globally
  • The amount of years of disability caused by low back pain since 1990 has increased by 54%

No One is Really Immune to Lower Back Pain

Research has also suggested that very few people are completely immune to the impact of low back pain. The number of individuals affected by it is actually highest in high-income countries, but rates are rapidly increasing in low- and middle-income countries throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East as well. And although low back pain is more common in women and older individuals than in other groups, it can affect just about anyone of any age. In fact, one study showed that 40% of 9-18-year olds throughout the world report having had low back pain.

But despite the incredibly high number of people with low back pain and all that’s known about it, this next fact may surprise you more than anything else: in the vast majority of patients, the actual cause of the pain cannot be identified. In some patients, problems like spine fractures, inflammation disorders, infection and cancer may be responsible, but for everyone else, the cause is not known, and they are classified as having “nonspecific low back pain.”

Additional Factors that Impact the Perception of Back Pain

For these individuals, there are several factors that might play a part in the development of their low back pain. These include:

  • Psychological factors like depression and anxiety,
  • Social factors like income and education levels, and
  • Inherited genetic factors.

People with chronic conditions like:

  • Asthma,
  • Headaches,
  • Diabetes,
  • Smokers, and
  • Individuals with Previous Episodes of Back Pain…

…are also more likely to experience low back pain than those who are in good health.

This may sound overwhelming and perhaps even dampen your spirits if you’re currently dealing with low back pain, but as physical therapists, we’d like you to know that the cause of your pain is not as important as you may think. Many people get hung up on the specific diagnosis of their pain and go on to have tests to determine the source of their problem. But as you can see, getting an accurate diagnosis is rare, and these tests may lead to unnecessary treatments like surgery for some.

Don’t Focus on the Cause of Lower Back Pain When It Can Rarely be Determined

Rather than focusing too much time on the diagnosis, physical therapy concentrates on addressing the problem starting with your very first session. Throughout movement-based therapies and exercises individualized according to your abilities and goals, we will work with you on a one-on-one basis and target your pain from many angles. We believe that movement is a key ingredient for reducing low back pain, and this is why we promote a more active lifestyle along with your treatment program from the get-go.

Current research is continuing to support physical therapy as an effective means to alleviate back pain, no matter the cause. In one recent study that reviewed current guidelines on the best treatments for low back pain, researchers recommended the following:

For many patients with nonspecific low back pain, simple first line care (advice, reassurance and self-management) and a review at 1-2 weeks is all that is required. If patients need second line care, non-pharmacological treatments like physical therapy should be tried before pharmacological therapies.

So if you’re dealing with low back pain, don’t waste your time worrying about what might be causing it. Instead, take action and see your physical therapist now for an evaluation and treatment plan that will address your issues and get you back to moving pain-free once again.

Take-home Messages:

  1. The cause of lower back pain can rarely be determined.
  2. 99% of lower back pain does NOT require surgery.
  3. YOUR BACK IS STRONG, RESILIENT, FLEXIBLE, AND STABLE
  4. The faster you start physical therapy, the better your outcome in almost all cases.

What are you waiting for?  The clinical research is clear and our expert clinicians here in Visalia and Hanford are ready to help.

Contact us today.

MRI for Lower Back Pain in Visalia – Why You Might Want to Avoid It

Seeing a Physical Therapist First and Avoiding an MRI  for Work-Related Lower Back Pain Will Often Lead to Better Outcomes

Of all regions of the body, the spine is associated with a much higher amount of pain than anywhere else. In fact, low back pain ranks second only behind the common cold for reasons to visit a doctor. Up to 80% of the general population will experience at least one episode of low back pain in their lives, so if your back is bothering you right now, you’re far from alone.  If you’ve experienced a work-related injury, and are looking want an MRI for lower back pain in Visalia, read on.  We think you will find this information valuable.

Lower Back Pain is a Common Work-Related Injury

For the majority of individuals with a history of low back pain, it’s easy to attest to the fact that the pain usually makes it more difficult to complete everyday tasks that you normally complete without even thinking about. It’s for this reason—and particularly when the pain is more intense—that low back pain is also one of the leading reasons that people miss work due to disability.

Low back pain can develop over time in a gradual manner or it may come about suddenly. For some, this leads to symptoms on a nearly constant basis, while for others, symptoms only arise every so often. Symptoms vary in each individual, but typically include the following: pain, tenderness and/or stiffness in the lower back, difficulty bending, lifting or twisting, weak or tired legs, difficulty sitting or standing for extended periods, and pain that spreads to the buttocks or legs.

False Positives with MRI’s are Common…Don’t Get Labelled as Having a Problem When It Doesn’t Exist

When an episode of low back pain first strikes, it’s categorized as acute, which is what most individuals experience.  Of those who experience a work-related back injury, many decide to seek out treatment for this pain… many go straight to their doctor for an evaluation and advice on what to do next. Unfortunately, this decision can prove to have some consequences that you might not expect. Some doctors will order additional tests like an MRI to better visualize what may be affecting your spine. But often times, the results from these tests will not help to improve the quality of treatment, and can instead lead to risky interventions like surgery.

To illustrate what may happen if you see a doctor first, one study investigated the effect of having an MRI on patients with work-related low back pain. Some of their key findings included:

  • A high percentage of people studied THAT WERE PAIN FREE, had a positive MRI
  • Reference here
  • Having an MRI was associated with a worse outcome in all patients who had one
  • Patients who had an MRI spent between $12,948-$13,816 more on medical costs than those who did not
  • Click here for the Reference

Costs are generally higher in patients who have an MRI because not only is the test itself expensive, but these patients are also more likely to be instructed to have treatments like surgery based on their results, which comes with its own set of risks. But there’s a much easier way of avoiding all of these costs in the first place: see a physical therapist first.

MRI Results Alone, Do Not Indicate the Cause of Lower Back Pain

In most cases, a physical therapist won’t send you to have an MRI for low back pain unless they think it’s completely necessary, which is rare. Instead of wasting time, needlessly suffering, waiting for results and being told to have potentially risky treatments first, you should try conservative, natural care first.  Our physical therapist will start treatment during your first visit and immediately work towards addressing your problem and alleviating your pain. So for any low back pain that’s hindering your enjoyment of life, see one of our physical therapists for the fastest and safest path to a full recovery of your abilities.

Call Us to Learn More.  Click here to visit our contact page.

Looking for Lower Back Pain Treatment in Hanford?

 

If you are looking for lower back pain treatment in Hanford, this recent research study may be of interest to you.  The authors reported that several physical therapy treatments reduce pain and disability in patients with a common lower back condition.  They reported that a joints at base of the spine, the sacroiliac joints, are frequently responsible for pain.

Lower back pain (LBP) continues to be one of the biggest health problems in the world, as 70-85% of the population will experience it at some point in their lives.  About 90% of all patients with LBP will have a good prognosis, regardless of the treatment they receive, but the other 10% will go on to experience chronic, or long-term pain and disability.  This often leads to individuals missing work due to their condition, and for many of them, the cause of the pain can be attributed to one or both sacroiliac joints.

The Sacroiliac Joints Can Be a Source of Pain for Some

The sacroiliac joint connects the sacrum bone at the base of the spine with the ilium, the uppermost part of the hip bone.  Sacroiliac joint dysfunction (SIJD) is a condition in which this joint does not move properly, and it is a common cause of back pain that occurs in up to 30% of LBP patients.  There are several treatments available for SIJD, such as physical therapy, which can include a variety of interventions.

Although physical therapy is often used to treat SIJD, research is lacking and it’s not completely clear just how effective it is for the condition.  For this reason, a powerful study called a systematic review was conducted to evaluate the possible benefits of physical therapy for SIJD.

Six medical databases searched for appropriate studies

To conduct the review, researchers performed a search of six major medical databases for relevant studies.  In particular, they were looking for studies that assessed the effectiveness of various physical therapy interventions for patients with SIJD for more than three months who did not have spinal surgery.  This search led to 1,114 studies being identified, but only nine of these fit the necessary criteria.

Four studies used manipulation as the main physical therapy intervention, three of them used exercise and another three used kinesiology tape.  Manipulation is a form of hands-on intervention in which the therapist manipulates joints and other structures to relieve pain, while kinesiology tape is applied to the painful area in order to bring about similar changes.

Here is the Conclusion that the Authors Published

The results showed that physiotherapy interventions are effective in reducing pain and disability associated with SIJD, with manipulation being the most effective approach and most commonly used within physical therapy clinics. [Conclusion] Manipulation, exercise and kinesio tape are effective in the treatment of pain, disability and pelvic asymmetry in SIJD.
Reference-  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28932014

Manipulation found to be the most effective of all treatments

Results showed that all three physical therapy interventions of manipulation, exercise and kinesiology tape were beneficial for reducing pain and disability, and for restoring normal symmetry of the pelvis in patients with SIJD.  When the interventions were compared to one another, it was found that manipulation was the most effective of all three at reducing pain and improving functional abilities.

These findings strongly suggest that physical therapy is indeed supported as an effective treatment for SIJD patients.  Researchers behind this review therefore recommend that anyone affected by LBP that may be due to SIJD should consider seeing a physical therapist for a comprehensive treatment program that includes manipulation to address their pain and disability.

We Treat Lower Back Pain and Sacroiliac Dysfunction in Hanford on a Daily Basis

If you would like to learn more about our all-natural, hands-on approach, contact us for an initial evaluation.  Most insurance plans cover physical therapy.

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As reported in the September ’17 issue of  The Journal of Physical Therapy Science

Looking for a Back Pain Specialist in Visalia?

The experienced clinicians at Bacci & Glinn Physical Therapy are a great choice if you are looking for a back pain specialist in Visalia.  Physical therapy is the best option available for almost any type of back pain.

Back pain is one of the most common of all possible medical problems.  In fact, at any given time, about 25% of Americans report experiencing back pain at least once within the past three months.  So if you’ve never had back pain, there’s a strong chance you’ll encounter it at some point in the future.

Back Pain is Most Common in the Lower Back

Pain can develop in any region of the spine, but the lower back is affected more than any other part.  In the majority of cases, low back pain is classified as nonspecific, which means no known cause has been identified that is responsible for the pain.  Aside from nonspecific low back pain, there are a number of other conditions that can lead to back pain.  These include a herniated or ruptured disc, lumbar spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, osteoarthritis, spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis and injuries like a pulled muscle or ligament.

Regardless of its cause, back pain can result in similar types of problems for anyone experiencing it.  The pain will usually make it difficult to perform many daily activities, especially those that require any bending of the spine, as well as trouble exercising or playing certain sports.  For some people, back pain may get so bad that might not be able to perform their job and will have to miss work as a result.

We are the Back Pain Experts in Visalia

The good news is that help is available for just about any type of back pain*, and that help comes in the form of physical therapy.  Physical therapists are experts at identifying the cause of back pain, and then creating a personalized treatment program designed to reduce pain levels with a number of different techniques.  Any concerns about serious problems (cancer, etc.) can be picked up by our clinicians during the initial evaluation.

After a thorough evaluation and assessment of your condition, a treatment plan is developed.  A typical physical therapy treatment program for back pain usually consists of the following:

  • Strengthening exercises
  • Stretching exercises
  • Manual (hands-on) therapy performed by the therapist
  • Functional training
  • Education on how to prevent future back pain

The benefits of physical therapy for back pain treatment in Visalia can be found time and time again in research studies that evaluate its impact on patients.  In one recent study, it was found that a hands-on technique performed by physical therapists called spinal manipulation helped to reduce pain and improve function in patients with low back pain.

So if you’re dealing with back pain of any sort, we strongly believe that seeing a physical therapist is your best option available.  Rest assured, the therapists at Bacci & Glinn Physical Therapy will get directly to the root of your problem, and then address it with a variety of treatments that have been proven to work no matter what kind of pain you have.

Need Help, Give Us a Call Today.

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*Ankylosing spondylitis and spinal infections have a prevalence of less than 1 per cent and the prevalence of prolapsed inter-vertebral disc is low – between 1 and 3 per cent. Up to 3 per cent may have spondylolisthesis (the slipping of one vertebra over another). Less than 1 per cent of back pain is due to more sinister pathologies including cancer (about 0.7 per cent – generally unlikely unless the patient has previously had cancer), and spinal infections (0.01 per cent).  Reference