Wellness Wednesday: How to Handle Low Back Pain


Loudoun County, Va. — Low back pain can affect our lives in many ways. It can prevent us from exercising, sleeping, working, and spending time with our families. Those four activities alone make up pretty much the entire day for a lot of us. So the question becomes, why aren’t we taking action to handle our pain?

Signs and Symptoms of Low Back Pain

Every individual experiences different signs and symptoms, however these are the most common:

  • muscle tightness or spasms
  • sharp or dull pain
  • limited range of motion,
  • stinging or burning pain that travels to the buttocks or thigh
  • numbness and tingling
  • difficulty sitting, standing, walking, or going up stairs
  • pain that increases with prolonged activity

Common Causes

Lower back injuries can occur from something as simple as twisting to grab something off of a shelf to a more serious scenario like falling off of a ladder.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries such as, sprains and strains, are the most common cause of lower back pain. Sprains occur when there is damage to the ligaments. Strains occur when there is damage to the muscles or tendons in the back. These injuries are often caused by things like improperly lifting an object, sport injuries, and/or sudden movements where the spine is unprotected.

Disc Problems

The discs in your spine serve a few purposes. They absorb shock, they protect nerves and they assist with movement. When spinal discs are injured, they are compressed. This can cause the jelly-like center of the disc to expand and irritate nearby nerve roots, or it can lead to less cushioning and spinal stenosis.

Sacroiliac Dysfunction

The “SI joint” simply refers to the lower portion of the spine, where the spine (sacrum) attaches to the hips (ilium). The SI joint helps the hips to move properly and it also acts as a transfer of weight between the lower body and the main skeleton. When the SI joint is uneven on one side, the body distributes weight differently. This leads to an increase in pressure on one side. That change in pressure can start off as a mild soreness or immediately cause sharp, shooting pain depending on how the injury occurred.

How PT Can Help Treat Low Back Pain

Most back problems happen because of muscular imbalances and poor body mechanics. Physical therapy can help decrease the initial symptoms and minimize pain with targeted stretching and hands-on manual therapy. Once the symptoms have subsided enough, the next phase of therapy involves focusing on mechanics, global and targeted strengthening of weakened areas that may have caused the initial injury. This will help minimize the possibility of re-injury. Once we have addressed any strength deficits, we will work with you on more functional exercises that will ultimately help you return to your normal activities.

Note from our sponsor: At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, we treat patients who suffer from back pain due to the common causes above, as well as many others! Call us TODAY at 703-450-4300 to start handling your back pain.


About Author

Loudoun Sports Therapy Center is a premier physical therapy clinic. We offer outpatient orthopedic and sports physical therapy as well as specialty programs.

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