Chronic back pain is defined as pain that persists for three months or more. It can come and go, often bringing temporary relief, followed by frustration. Chronic low back pain may be caused by a herniated or ruptured disc, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, or spondylolisthesis. Symptoms include:
- pain that radiates from the low back to the buttock, down the back of the leg, or into the foot;
- numbness or tingling in the leg;
- muscle weakness in the leg;
- difficulty standing or walking.
Causes of Back Pain
A herniated disc can occur when there is a tear in the outer layer of the disc and the inner gel-like substance leaks out. A ruptured disc occurs when the inner layer of the disc ruptures.
Degenerative disc disease is a condition that occurs when the discs in your spine begin to break down and deteriorate. This can happen due to age, injury, or overuse.
Spinal stenosis is a condition that occurs when the spaces in your spine narrow, which can put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.
Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which a vertebra in your spine slips out of place.
Physical therapy can help to relieve pain and improve function in people with chronic low back pain. Treatment may include exercises to:
- stretch and strengthen the muscles in the back, abdomen, and legs;
- increase flexibility;
- improve range of motion;
- reduce stress on the spine;
- promote healing.
A physical therapist can also teach you how to lift and carry objects properly and how to sit, stand, and move in ways that will help to prevent back pain.
There are several approaches to improve the condition of low back pains. Among them are:
- Retraining your posture: This will help you become more aware of how you sit, stand, and move. The goal is to retrain your muscles so that you can maintain a more upright posture.
- Strengthening your core muscles: These are the muscles in your abdomen and lower back that help to support your spine. Strengthening them can help to reduce the strain on your back and improve your posture.
- Improving your flexibility: This can help to loosen the muscles and tissues in your back and reduce the strain on your spine.
- Using heat or ice: Applying heat or ice to the affected area can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
If you are experiencing chronic low back pain, talk to your doctor or a physical therapist to find out if physical therapy may be right for you.