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.

Visalia Headache Specialist Near Me

 

Overcome your frustrating headaches with the help of a Visalia headache specialists … one of our expert trained physical therapists here at Bacci & Glinn Physical Therapy.

Frequent headaches can sure throw a wrench in your spokes, and most of us know how they can interfere with our ability to function normally.  But for the 45 million Americans with chronic headaches, this inconvenience doesn’t just come and go every so often.  Instead, headaches are a regular occurrence that can strike them any time.

Over 100 different types of headaches have been classified, but they are all generally categorized as either primary or secondary.  A primary headache simply means the headache itself is the disorder, while secondary headaches result from other conditions like a neck strain, TMJ muscle disorder, stroke, infection or head injury.

Most headaches are caused by a combination of factors, and different triggers can set off headaches in different people.  Some of the more common causes of primary headaches include stress, anxiety, lack of physical activity, bad sleeping habits, certain medications, poor diet and bad posture.  In every case, it’s important to determine the type of headache first before attempting to treat it.

Headaches Often Respond Favorably to Physical Therapist Directed Treatment

No single treatment exists that’s capable of eliminating all headaches, but all types are treatable.  While many people reach for pain-relieving medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen when a headache hits, these drugs don’t offer a long-term solution to the problem and may not even work for some individuals.  Physical therapy, on the other hand, is designed to identify the problem that’s causing the headache and then address it with a variety of interventions.

A physical therapy treatment program for chronic headaches will usually include some of the following components:

  • Soft tissue mobilization: rhythmic soft-tissue stretching of the neck and upper back muscles
  • LightForce™ laser therapy: the 15 Watt therapeutic laser facilitates pain relief
  • Neck mobilization: manual technique to gently move joints of the neck
  • Strengthening exercises: to increase strength of the muscles that stabilize the upper back and neck
  • Stretching exercises: to increase range of motion to tight muscles in the neck, chest, and upper back
  • Posture education: making slight modifications to the home or office to improve overall spinal posture, reduce stress and increase body awareness

Clinically Proven Headache Treatment for Visalia Residents

Research has shown that physical therapy can be effective for helping patients with headaches to improve, like this recent study, which concludes:

Compared with usual care, participants receiving physiotherapy reported significant reductions in headache frequency immediately after treatment (mean difference -1.6 days, 95% confidence interval [CI] -2.5 to -0.6), at 6-month follow-up (-1.7 days, 95% CI -2.6 to -0.8), and at 9-month follow-up (-2.4 days, 95% CI -3.2 to -1.5), and significant improvements in all secondary outcomes immediately posttreatment and at 6- and 9-month follow-ups, (p<.05 for all). No adverse events were reported.

CONCLUSIONS:Physiotherapy treatment provided benefits over usual care for seniors with recurrent headache associated with neck pain and dysfunction.  Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27497890

Headaches may be nuisance to your daily life, but it doesn’t have to be this way.  Contact our physical therapy team for a complete evaluation of your condition and a personalized treatment program that will address your issues and reduce the occurrence of these bothersome episodes.  Click here to for contact information that’s right on our home page.

 

Fibromyalgia Treatment Visalia

If you did a search for fibromyalgia treatment Visalia, chances are, our experienced clinicians can help.

Fibromyalgia is one of the most common of all pain-causing syndromes in the country.  Almost 5 million Americans are affected by fibromyalgia, and between 80-90% of those who have it are women and residents in the Central Valley are not alone.

Individuals with fibromyalgia typically experience various problems getting through their daily activities, but a physical therapy treatment program can address just about all aspects of this condition and significantly improve patients’ lifestyles.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome, meaning that most individuals who get it have it for a while.  Symptoms usually start to develop in women between ages 30-50, but cases occur at younger ages and in men as well.  The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it’s thought to be due to changes in how the nervous system processes pain.  In some people it may be triggered by trauma, surgery, infection, arthritis or major emotional stress, while it develops gradually over time in others.

Not just an individual condition, fibromyalgia is actually a complex syndrome with many components.  For this reason, it can include many different signs and symptoms, such as widespread pain, tender points throughout the body, muscle stiffness, fatigue, depression/anxiety, thinking or memory problems, and numbness/tingling sensations.  These symptoms can really get in the way of functioning normally in daily life and may also lead to reduced physical activity.  Over time, this can decrease overall fitness levels and result in other health-related problems, too.

Although there is no cure for fibromyalgia, physical therapy can significantly help patients by easing symptoms and improving their quality of life.  A typical physical therapy program for fibromyalgia will consist of the following:

  • Aerobic exercise recommendations (brisk walking, bicycling, swimming, etc.)
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Class 4, cold laser
  • Ice and/or heat therapy to reduce pain levels
  • Hands-on therapy techniques applied to painful areas (manual therapy)
  • Water-based, or aquatic exercise

To illustrate how physical therapy and physical activity can help, a powerful recent study provided the following remarks:

When compared with control, moderate-quality evidence indicates that aerobic exercise probably improves HRQL (Health Related Quality of Life) and all-cause withdrawal, and low-quality evidence suggests that aerobic exercise may slightly decrease pain intensity, may slightly improve physical function, and may lead to little difference in fatigue and stiffness. Three of the reported outcomes reached clinical significance (HRQL, physical function, and pain).

Reference: Aerobic exercise training for adults with fibromyalgia.

Important: fibromyalgia patients generally need special pacing and graded treatment programs. In our experience, this combined with therapeutic education and short-term use of modalities like the cold laser, can result in significant improvements.

So if you’re dealing with chronic pain and you did a search for fibromyalgia treatment Visalia to find an experienced clinician, we strongly recommend that you see one of our  physical therapists for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment program designed specifically with your goals and abilities in mind.

To learn more about our two locations, click here to visit our contact page.

 

Chronic Pain Treatment in Visalia

Chronic pain can make getting through daily life a chore, but physical therapy can help and Bacci & Glinn provides is well equipped to provide chronic pain treatment in Visalia.

Pain is a part of life.  Whether it’s a crick in your neck from sleeping wrong, getting your finger caught in the car door or rolling your ankle on a tree root, everyone has had their share of painful experiences.

Pain is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong and that you should do something to address it.  In most cases, this will happen on its own after some time has passed or with some form of treatment, and after the injury has healed, the pain goes away.  For some people, however, pain continues long after healing.  When it lasts for three months or more, the condition is called chronic pain, which can become a complicated and frustrating problem to deal with.

When you experience an injury, sensors that detect pain become turned on in that injured area.  These pain sensors then send a message in the form of an electrical signal to the brain, which processes this signal and sends out a message that you are hurting.  Usually, this signal stops sending messages when the cause of pain is resolved (which means the injured area has healed.)  But with chronic pain, these nerve signals continue to send messages that you are in pain even though there is no longer any injury.

It’s not always clear why chronic pain occurs, and in some cases it may develop without any known injury.  For some people, pain from conditions like headaches/migraines, arthritis, back pain, infections or nerve damage is the original source of the pain signals that continue in the long term.  Chronic pain symptoms may include a dull ache or feelings of throbbing, burning, stinging, soreness or stiffness.

Don’t Let Chronic Pain Control Your Life

Chronic pain can prove to be a real nuisance that gets in the way of many aspects of daily life, but fortunately, physical therapy can help.  Physical therapists see patients with all types of chronic pain problems frequently, and are equipped to treat them with a variety of effective interventions, such as:

  • Natural treatments, no medications
  • Education on how the brain and nervous system are causing the pain
  • Strengthening and flexibility exercises
  • Hands-on therapy techniques
  • Posture and body mechanics awareness
  • Laser therapy if needed

Research has shown that physical therapy can be beneficial for patients with chronic pain, and the CDC released guidelines last year that encouraged the use of physical therapy over opioids to address chronic pain:

The contextual evidence review found that many nonpharmacologic therapies, including physical therapy, weight loss for knee osteoarthritis, psychological therapies such as CBT, and certain interventional procedures can ameliorate chronic pain.

So if you’ve been dealing with chronic pain for a long while that won’t seem to improve, seeing a physical therapist is the best decision you can make.  Through education and evidence-based treatments, your physical therapy treatment program can certainly put you on the right path to recovery.

If you need help with chronic pain, please contact us today.