A Global Burden of Disease, Injuries, and Risk Factors study recently cited low back pain as the single leading cause of disability worldwide. Estimates indicate that 80% of us contend with the common ailment at some point in our lives. The intense and debilitating pain that accompanies low back injuries often prevents sufferers from going to work, participating in household chores and enjoying time with loved ones.
Low back pain doesn’t have to be a prescription for couch surfing. Current studies show no evidence that supervised physical activity increases the risk of additional back problems or work disability. Counter to the age-old recommendation of inactivity, a customized exercise program under the direction of a physical therapist is widely prescribed to reduce pain and disability.
Physical Therapist, Brian Hartz agrees “A common misconception among those who suffer from back pain is that they should rest and it’ll eventually go away. Instead, through the use of a customized physical therapy plan, back pain can be a thing of the past for many of our patients.”
Although back pain can affect anyone, the major risk factors include age, poor physical fitness, genetics, being overweight, and smoking. The National Institutes of Health suggests the following to prevent back pain:
• Exercise frequently and keep your back muscles strong.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Eat a balanced diet, including daily recommendations for calcium and vitamin D.
• Focus on body mechanics by standing up straight and lifting heavy objects with bent legs and a straight back.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, low back pain sufferers should prioritize a supervised exercise program and a gradual return to everyday activities to restore back strength. Following an evaluation, physical therapists can recommend specific exercises to prevent and treat back pain, and provide additional treatment options to address pain and restore mobility.