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Back Pain Basics

Back pain is all too common. In fact, 8% of adults in the US experience persistent or chronic pain in their backs to the point that they can be limited in everyday activities, and well over a third of the adult population reported back pain in the last three months in a study conducted by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The World Health Organization informs us that low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide and the condition for which the greatest number of people may benefit from rehabilitation. This pervasive problem is what we’ll be examining in this overview of the basics of back pain.

First of all, symptoms can be quite varied. From dull aches to sharp pains, it can even radiate into other parts of the body – most commonly the legs. Spine-related leg pain, often called sciatica or radicular pain, can present itself as numbness, tingling, weakness, a dull sensation, or even a feeling reminiscent of an electric shock. Otherwise normal movement restricted by pain can affect people’s work, school, and community engagement, not to mention recreation like sports, gardening, or playing with the kids or grandchildren. Back pain can be acute, which is to say lasting less than 6 weeks, sub-acute (6-12 weeks), or chronic (more than 12 weeks).

Like symptoms, the causes of back pain are sundry but can generally be divided into specific or non-specific classifications. Non-specific means that the experience of pain cannot be confidently accounted for by another diagnosis such as an underlying disease or pathology.. It is considered non-specific for around 90% of people’s cases, though reliable risk factors include low physical activity, obesity, smoking, and highly physically stressful work. Specific back pain can be explained by damaged tissue as from injuries, or from an underlying disease or organ problem.

As stated earlier, the World Health Organization recognizes back pain as the pain that can most commonly be treated. Proper treatments focus on the underlying condition(s) causing the discomfort. Physical therapy improves muscular strength providing a stable structure so that your spine doesn’t have to support so much of your body weight on its own. Of course, weight loss in general also lessens the load, and even quitting smoking may help you overcome back pain, as the risk associated with suffering from it increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day according to Mayo Clinic. Many scientific studies have demonstrated the efficacy of physical therapy in helping people overcome back pain. This study, for instance, showed that those who saw a physical therapist at the first point of care had an 89 percent lower probability of receiving an opioid prescription. That’s one of many of the great reasons for seeking the expertise of a Licensed Physical Therapy Doctor here at Physical Therapy Doctors of Florida–we help you move without pain, and do so without prescription opioids! Our doctors and therapists also treat your condition without necessarily having to resort to surgery. They can identify and address the cause and treatment for back pain. Sometimes it isn’t what you’d expect, for example, a study in the National Library of Medicine found evidence suggesting that physical therapy interventions targeting the hips may improve outcomes, including pain and disability, for patients with low back pain.

Ready to go beyond the basics of back pain and allow our pain experts to help you move without pain? Call us at (941) 264-1414, email, or reach out on our direct message page. We’re located in Bradenton, convenient for access from throughout Manatee and Sarasota Counties.