Written by Professional’s Antonio Lombardo PT, DPT, USA-W, USA-PL, CPT, Pn-1
Whether we took a tumble snowboarding in the Appalachian Mountains, bent down the wrong way, or lifted something a little too heavy, low back pain can be a serious bother. If you’re struggling, know that most people experience back pain at some point in their lives and according the World Health Organization (WHO), it’s one of the most common reasons people see begin physical therapy. So, have no fear. Your local Professional physical therapist is here to turn that frown, upside down and get you moving and grooving, from your low back injury!
With any type of injury, your body will know what to do, which is both good and bad. Our body goes through a very natural process called the inflammatory cycle that usually takes around 6 weeks from start to finish. This cycle, along with physical therapy are key pieces to the overall puzzle of getting better! Let’s talk about what you may feel from start to finish:
Week 1-2: The acute phase. From the first day you take those wrong steps to the end of your second week as some studies show, the majority of people will experience inflammation. Inflammation is made up of warmth, redness, swelling and, our favorite—pain! This is meant for our body to send chemicals to the area and promote healing as efficiently as possible.
You can expect your physical therapist to reduce these symptoms as best as they can! From ice, to soft tissue massage, TENS, a home exercise program, they’ll even provide some low level stretching and strengthening exercises to really get your low back feeling back to normal, almost.
Week 3-6: The sub-acute phase. As my professor once told me, motion is lotion, and that’s exactly what we will be doing in this phase. As we enter weeks 3 to 6, our body is pulling the troops back and is starting to heal. Now is the time to really start moving and grooving. In physical therapy, we will start with gentle stretches and cardio, and as one progresses, we will start to add core and low level exercises, gradually increasing mobility and intensity to get you back and feeling 100%.
Piece of the Puzzle
Physical therapy is one of the best tools to combat low back pain. However, this is just one piece of the puzzle. Here are some other great tips and tricks you can do to improve your low back pain:
Get enough restorative sleep
Pain is a leading cause of insomnia—difficulty with falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Inadequate sleep can also make your back pain worse. This vicious cycle makes it more difficult for you to get restorative sleep. Getting enough restorative sleep is needed for the body’s tissues to heal and recharge energy levels. If you have trouble sleeping, it is important to address pain or other factors that are causing it.
Engage your brain
Pain Management Physicians have long understood that pain is more complicated than just a sensation. The way your brain interprets and processes pain signals plays an important role in how you perceive your pain. The good news is, you can develop skills for your brain to reduce or ignore some pain signals. One great strategy is meditation! Mindfulness and meditation, which typically involves slow, controlled breathing and focusing the mind, may help reduce the pain sensation. It can also help with relaxation. The better news, you can find meditation videos online for free! Developing expertise in mind-body techniques may go a long way to help you have some degree of influence over your pain.
Find activities that make you happy
Ongoing back pain can wreak havoc on your life by affecting your cherished relationships, finances, and your ability to get stuff done at work and at home. Finding activities that make you happy can help reduce some stress and may relieve some pain. Some studies even show that doing just 3 things that make you feel good each day, such as enjoying a comforting cup of tea or coffee, calling an old friend, walking the dog, or receiving a longish 30-second hug from a loved one, can make pain more tolerable. Even something as simple as laughter with a friend may stimulate feel-good endorphins
Stay the course
As the Roman Saying goes, “It too, shall pass.” You will get better, and your low back pain will go away. However, not without serious commitment. We all know how hard it is to staying committed to a habit, a goal, or a lifestyle. It is imperative that you must keep chugging along like the little train that could.
Create successful habits
Many of your current day to day tasks are habitual in nature. You may have started them months or even years ago. Some of them have remained with you since childhood. The key element is to create daily habits that will draw you closer to your goal. If you’re aware of negative habits, replace them with affirmative ones. To illustrate, when I sit down to do notes from work, I find myself wasting time surfing the internet on occasions. I know I’m buying time from the real task at hand—doing the work. Same goes for physical therapy and your home exercise program, one must do the work to reap the rewards.
Create smaller goals
Depending on the size of the goal, it’s advisable to focus on smaller victories that draw you closer to your goal. Focusing on smaller victories along the way gives you the self-confidence you need to forge ahead. It is self-empowering and testament you’re on the right path. You might stumble upon setbacks along the way during the pursuit of smaller goals. These are valuable lessons since they allow you to iron-out the creases before pursuing the larger goal. The opportunity to get it right in the build-up phase is advantageous than getting it wrong when it matters. Completing your Home exercise program (HEP) is a perfect example of a small goal, trying completing half of it one day, then 75% another, next thing you know you’re doing it once and even twice a day!
If you’re experiencing pain will doing any of the above movements, request an appointment with a Professional physical therapist by visiting, https://www.professionalpt.com/physical-therapy-clinics-near-me/.