Suffering from lower back pain? You’re not alone. Around 80% of American adults experience it during their lives. For 16 million people, this pain is chronic. Besides reducing your quality of life, lower back pain affects how you walk, sit, and stand, plus your emotional health and overall well-being. Fortunately, physical therapy may be able to reduce or eliminate your pain. As you research Fort Collins physical therapy providers, you can learn about PT as a powerful treatment option.
Arthritis and Back Pain
Lower back pain has many potential causes, but arthritis is near the top of the list. Spinal arthritis is the usual culprit, causing pain and stiffness in the spine’s facet joints or sacroiliac joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common cause, but other possibilities include rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthritis.
Many mysteries remain in the quest to understand back and neck pain with arthritis. However, we do know some vital information:
- Osteoarthritis is a disease of wear and tear. The protective cartilage in our joints diminishes as we age.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own tissues. The joints’ synovial linings become inflamed, causing significant pain and swelling.
- Spondyloarthritis is a group of inflammatory disorders that affect the spine and surrounding joints.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
While back pain impacts your quality of life, you have treatment options. Physical therapy for lower back pain can include both passive and active forms. Both have their places in the recovery process, but they target the problem from different angles:
- Active therapies usually involve exercise and stretching.
- Passive techniques include heat application, electrical stimulation, and ice packs.
Most PT for lower back pain incorporates active techniques, including strengthening the abdominal and back muscles. That’s because a strong core provides more support for the spine. Stabilization exercises build up secondary muscles around the spine for improved range-of-motion support.
Active physical therapies lessen strain and load on the spine itself. After completing a PT plan, it’s essential to maintain strength in the core and secondary spinal muscles. Deconditioning may cause lower back pain to return or worsen. An experienced physical therapist can suggest long-term strategies to continue positive treatment outcomes. You may be able to avoid chronic pain medications that come with the risk of addiction.
Selecting a Physical Therapy Specialist
Getting treatment for lower back pain typically starts with a visit to a primary care physician. If the pain is a new issue, the primary care physician will investigate further. Tracking down possible causes can include physical exams plus diagnostic imaging tests like X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans. Once any diagnostics are complete, the PCP can include the information in your medical records.
Your physician can also provide direct referrals or recommendations for physical therapy in East Fort Collins, Colorado. Relevant records are sent to the PT specialists before your first visit. The therapist will do a full evaluation, including physical exams. You may be asked to sit, stand, bend, walk, reach, and perform other actions as you’re able. Your PT can then create a treatment plan to address your lower back pain.