According to the 2012 American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Low Back Pain Survey, 61% of Americans said they have experienced low back pain, and of those, 69% felt it has affected their daily lives.
If you have recently suffered from low back pain, you are definitely not alone. Millions of Americans—around 25 percent of adults—will experience low back pain lasting at least a day within the next three months.
“In most cases, the pain is mild and will resolve on its own,” says local rehabilitation expert and MPT owner Beth Winkler-Schmit. “It’s definitely something that increases as we age, and it happens more to women than men.”
Winkler-Schmit says that there’s no one cause for all low back pain, and that it could come from something as simple as overuse, twisting, bending, lifting and even sitting down. However, there are several conditions that could be causing the pain such as
- Degenerative disc disease
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Herniated disk
- Osteoporosis, and
- Tumors of the spine.
“If it’s mild pain and goes away after a day, that’s great,” Winkler-Schmit says. “But if the pain persists, then your best bet is early intervention. If the pain has lasted for more than a couple of days, call us and make an appointment and we’ll perform a thorough evaluation.”
Several recent studies have shown that early intervention with physical therapy is the best way to avoid invasive, costly and painful treatments such as epidural steroid injections and surgery. The studies conclude that patients seeing a physical therapist within 30 days or less results in fewer advanced treatments, fewer doctor visits and much less out-of-pocket expenses as compared to patients that begin physical therapy 90 days or more after experiencing pain.
Preventing Low Back Pain
“Hopefully, as we get older, we also get smarter,” Winkler-Schmit says. “With a little awareness, you can prevent many incidences of low back pain.”
Winkler-Schmit advises people to use a little precaution when performing everyday activities such as lifting (“Bend your knees so you’re using your legs instead of your back, keep the object close to you, and don’t lift too much.”), sitting (“A good lumbar support in your office chair supports your back, and try to get up and stretch on the hour when you’re sitting for long periods of time.”) and standing (“Like your mama always said, ‘Don’t slouch!’”).
For more tips and advice, check out Move Forward: Physical Therapist’s Guide to Low Back Pain.