COMMON CAUSES OF SPINE PAIN
Spine pain is one of the most common causes for North Americans to miss work or go to a doctor or clinic. It is estimated that 95% of North Americans will experience debilitating spine pain. There are many causes of low back and neck pain, but the most common are muscle strain, disc irritation/herniation, arthritis, and osteoporosis. All of these conditions are treatable through conservative means such as Physical Therapy.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS RELATED TO SPINE PAIN
At Mississippi Physical Therapy, we commonly see mechanical and soft-tissue injuries as a leading cause of spine pain. Injuries like this can include damage to intervertebral discs, improper movement of the spinal joints, and compression of nerve roots. Most frequently, lower back pain related to the spine is due to a pulled or torn muscle/ligament.
Sometimes, back pain can develop without a cause that a doctor can readily identify or find in a screening. This is commonly found in:
- Muscle or ligament strain. Continuous heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement can strain back muscles and spinal ligaments. Poor physical condition can make matters worse, causing constant strain on the back and producing painful muscle spasms.
- Bulging or ruptured disks. Disks serve as cushions in between the bones (vertebrae) in the spine. The soft material inside a disk can cause damage to the body, including bulging or rupturing and pressing on a nerve. However, bulging or ruptured disks can occur without pain. It is often discovered after an x-ray for another unrelated issue.
- Arthritis. Osteoarthritis can affect the lower back. Sometimes, arthritis in the spine can lead to spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord.
- Osteoporosis. The spine’s vertebrae can develop painful fractures if the bones become porous and brittle.
COMMON SIGNS OF SPINE PAIN THAT MIGHT INDICATE AN EMERGENCY
Everyone needs to take spine pain seriously. Some forms of spine pain could mean a significant issue that would require immediate care:
- Sharp pain (compared to a dull ache): This could mean several things, including a torn muscle or ligament. It could also be an issue with an internal organ.
- Radiating pain: This pain “moves” or rapidly appears on the glutes or legs, which could mean a nerve compression condition or even nerve damage.
- Sudden weakness in the legs: Weakness can be caused by compressed nerves in the spine. Many conditions can cause this, such as sciatica or spinal stenosis. Sudden weakness in the legs could also indicate a stroke.
- Incontinence: Back pain paired with an inability to control the bowels or bladder might indicate serious nerve problems. This is not limited to compression or a spine infection, such as discitis or meningitis.
- Numbness or sharp pain in the groin or glutes: One common condition is saddle anesthesia. If experiencing this pain, it can also be a sign of a severe nerve or spine condition.
Many of these symptoms mean a medical emergency. If experiencing any of these symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention.
GETTING A DIAGNOSIS FOR SPINE PAIN
If you’re experiencing spine pain, it’s essential to see a doctor so they can properly diagnose the source of your pain and develop a treatment plan. During your appointment, your doctor will likely:
- Examine your back and assess your ability to move, including sitting, standing, and walking.
- Rate your pain on a scale of zero to ten
- Talk to you about how well you’re functioning with your pain
These assessments help determine where the pain is coming from, how much you can move before pain forces you to stop, and whether you have muscle spasms. They can also rule out more serious causes of back pain. If there’s reason to believe that a specific condition is causing your back pain, your doctor may order one or more tests. These could include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
- Bone scan
- Spinal tap or lumbar puncture
- Electromyogram (EMG) or nerve conduction study (NCS)
After reviewing your test results, your doctor can properly diagnose the source of your pain and develop a treatment plan. This might include physical therapy, medication, injections, surgery, or a combination.
Spine pain can be difficult to treat, but working with a doctor specializing in spine disorders can help you find relief.
MOST EFFECTIVE TREATMENTS FOR SPINE PAIN
Spine pain can be acute or chronic, and it can stem from a variety of causes. But physical therapy is often an effective treatment option whether an injury or a degenerative condition causes the pain.
If the injury is acute, it can often be resolved in just a few sessions of skilled PT intervention. Physical therapy may also successfully treat chronic low back and neck pain. Our manual therapy techniques, in combination with dry needling and therapeutic exercise, have proven effective in treating all of the above-mentioned pathologies.
Our clinic uses manual therapy techniques, dry needling, and therapeutic exercise to treat spine pain effectively. If you’re suffering from spine pain, come see us so we can help you get back to living a pain-free life.
Come find out for yourself so you may start living a life without pain.
BENEFITS OF SPINE PAIN THERAPY
Physical therapy can be worth it for treating back pain. Physical therapy can help treat back pain by strengthening muscles that support the spine. Physical therapy can also help by removing pressure from the spinal discs. This serves to relieve stiffness and aid mobility and circulation.
However, it is essential to consult a medical professional to determine if physical therapy is the best treatment option for your specific situation.
Mississippi Physical Therapy recommends physical therapy for acute and chronic back or neck pain. Our team can help to:
- Strengthen the muscles that support the spine
- Remove pressure from the spinal discs and facet joints
- Alleviate stiffness and improve mobility
- Improve circulation
If you are experiencing back pain, contact our physical therapists to see if they can help alleviate your pain.
HOW EXERCISE CAN HELP WITH SPINE PAIN
Spine pain is a common issue that many people face. While there are many different causes of spine pain, exercise is often recommended to help alleviate it. Spine pain can be caused by various issues, including poor posture, muscle strain, and arthritis. Exercise is a great way to help reduce spine pain.
Physical therapy can help manage spine pain. A physical therapist can teach you exercises and stretches that can help ease your pain. Therapeutic exercise effectively reduces pain and improves function in people with back pain. Physical therapy can help improve your range of motion and flexibility, reducing the strain on your spine.
Spine-strengthening exercises can also help reduce pain by improving the stability of your spine.
If you are experiencing spine pain, talk to your doctor about whether physical therapy or exercise might be right for you. Improving your strength, flexibility, and range of motion can reduce your pain and improve your quality of life.
THERAPEUTIC EXERCISES FOR SPINE PAIN
Spine pain can often be alleviated through physical therapy and exercise. Your physical therapist will teach proper body posture techniques for sitting, standing, and lifting. These techniques will help reduce the likelihood of back strain or injury. You will also learn specific exercises to do at home. Regularly performing these recommended home exercises can help your back muscles strengthen more quickly. Spine pain is a common issue, but the right treatment plan can be managed effectively.
Walking, swimming, and biking are all great exercises for spine pain. Start with short sessions and gradually increase the length of time you exercise. Swimming is especially beneficial, as the water supports your body weight. Avoid any strokes that twist your body, as this can aggravate spine pain. Some other therapeutic exercises for spine pain relief include bridges, knee-to-chest stretches, lower back rotational stretches, pelvic tilts, and lying lateral leg lifts. Be sure to consult with a physical therapist or doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.
DRY NEEDLING THERAPY AND ITS EFFECTS ON SPINE PAIN
Dry needling is a treatment performed by skilled, certified physical therapists.
When treating spine pain, dry needling may be an option worth considering. This therapy involves inserting thin needles into trigger points in the muscles to help relieve pain.
A thin monofilament needle is inserted into the skin to treat underlying muscle trigger points. This can help to relieve pain and improve movement impairments associated with spine pain.
Your physical therapist will first perform an evaluation to identify key back pain issues and muscle groups that are affected. From there, a treatment plan can be created specifically for you. Dry needling can be effective in relieving pain and helping you get back to your normal activities.
In dry needling therapy, the therapist will first palpate the muscle around the affected area to find the trigger point. They will then insert a needle into that trigger point. The needle will help to release the muscle and relieve the pain.
Dry needling is a popular treatment for spine pain, and many people find it an effective way to reduce pain and improve their range of motion.
Some patients may experience an immediate reduction in pain symptoms after a dry needling session, while others may require one or two additional sessions before seeing any improvement.
Most physical therapists recommend waiting a few days between dry needling sessions to allow the body to recover from any soreness caused by the needles.
If you’re considering dry needling as a treatment for your spine pain, talk to us to see if it’s right for you.
PHYSICAL THERAPY BEFORE AND AFTER SPINE SURGERY
Spine surgery is a big decision. It can be scary and come with a lot of unknowns. But there is one thing that experts agree on: physical therapy before and after spine surgery is key to a successful outcome. Physical therapy and exercise are beneficial for patients before and after back surgery. Physical therapy helps countless patients regain strength and stability and help shorten recovery time after most surgeries.
Physical therapy and exercise are considered essential in most back pain patients’ treatments. This includes those undergoing surgery and patients where surgery is not required. This is because patients with low back pain have a better chance at a faster recovery when in their best physical condition.
Unless there is a medical reason not to have physical therapy or a patient requires emergency surgery, most patients are advised to undergo a trial of physical therapy before considering back surgery.
If you’re scheduled for spine surgery, your doctor will likely recommend that you begin or continue physical therapy in the weeks leading up to your procedure. Physical therapy before surgery can help improve your overall fitness level and prepare your body for the stress of surgery and recovery. After your spine surgery, you’ll likely need to continue with physical therapy to help you regain strength and flexibility.
Physical therapy is critical for patients to gain better outcomes following spine surgery, including the ability to regain strength, improve range of motion, and prevent future injuries. If you’re considering spine surgery, or have already scheduled a procedure, talk to your doctor about the role physical therapy can play in your treatment plan.
It may be the key to a quicker, smoother recovery.
PREVENTING SPINE PAIN
Most back pain gets better within a month of physical therapy. However, everyone is different, and back pain is a complex condition. For some, the pain doesn’t go away and gives persistent, severe pain. Many forms of treatment we use can aid in spine pain relief.
Here are some steps we recommend to help protect your back and prevent back pain:
Perform muscle-strengthening and stretching exercises we teach during therapy sessions at least twice weekly.
Stand and sit up straight.
Avoid heavy lifting. If you lift something heavy, bend your knees and keep your back straight.
Get active and eat healthy.