“Nearly two-thirds of Americans experience low back pain, but 37 percent do not seek professional help for pain relief, according to the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) “Move Forward” Low Back Pain Survey.
‘Most people experience low back pain at some point in their lives, but many people don’t realize they can prevent or treat the condition with the help of a physical therapist,” said APTA spokesperson Mary Ann Wilmarth, PT, DPT, OCS, chief of physical therapy at Harvard University. “For Americans living with low back pain, everyday tasks can be a challenge, and this survey revealed just how much this condition can affect someone’s quality of life.’
Highlights from the “Move Forward” Low Back Pain Survey include:
- More than one-third of adults say low back pain has affected their ability to engage in tasks of daily living (39 percent), exercise (38 percent), and sleep (37 percent).
- Low back pain isn’t just for those who spend a lot of time on their feet. In fact, more than half (54 percent) of Americans who experience low back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting.
- Men (31 percent) are more likely than women (20 percent) to report that low back pain affects their ability to do work.
- When experiencing low back pain, nearly three in four (72 percent) Americans use pain medication as a way to relieve their symptoms. More than half (55 percent) said they use heat and cold packs at home for relief.”
With millions of people suffering from low back pain, medication alone is not an answer. Identifying sitting, standing and sleep positions can make huge changes in individual’s pain levels.
1. Morning Stretches. In the morning, before getting out of bed, do 30-40 Pelvic Tilts. Lay on your back, knees bent, feet flat and flatten your back into the table by engaging your stomach muscles. This simple exercise will get your lumbar spine and pelvis to move before you bear any weight on your your back thereby reducing your LBP.
2. Adjust your sleeping position.
Lay on your back and place a few pillows under your thighs to bring yours knees above your hips. This will bring your back into a relatively flexed position, and open your spine.
Another adjustment to your sleep position is side-lying. Look at the position of your knee and hip (the knee is lower than the hip). Place a pillow between your legs to bring the height of your knee equal to your hip. This will place you in a neutral position instead of rotating your hip and spine all night.
3. Adjust your Sitting Position.
A normal sit position consists of knees and hips at equal heights. If this position does not work for you, adjust so your knees are slightly above your hips. This will create relative flexion of your spine and open it up. Also, before driving, see if you can move your car seat (the piece you sit on, not your back). If this is not possible (i.e. the car seat cannot be moved) then place a towel roll under your knees to take the strain off your back and sciatic nerve.
4. Adjust your Standing Position.
Place your foot on an object to relatively flex your spine and reduce pressure.
Brushing your teeth: open the vanity and place your foot on it while you brush.
Doing the dishes: open the cabinet and place your foot on it while you clean.
Prolonged standing: place your foot on anything you can to reduce your pain.
If you suffer from low back pain, give us a call. Physical therapists are experts in treating and educating patients of all diagnoses-especially low back problems. Graston Techniques, Dry Needling, stretching and strengthening exercises are just a few of the techniques used to help treat clients.
By Mary Kate Cullen, DPT
Physical Therapist at Physical Therapy and Sports Rehab, Inc.
If you need physical therapy after an injury or are experiencing soreness caused by a medical disorder, call us directly and we can evaluate your condition and begin treatment right away. If additional treatments are necessary, we can coordinate with your MD. Your recovery is our expertise! Physical Therapy and Sports Rehab Inc. has 3 convenient locations at Norfolk/Wrentham (at the corner of Routes 1A and 115), Norfolk Center (across from Walgreens) and Norwood (Guild Medical Building). Call 781-769-2040 today! Go to www.ptandsr.com to learn more!