5 Things to Know When Fighting Chronic Back Pain

Feb10th 2022

Did You Know That You Can Treat Your Chronic Back Pain with Physical Therapy?

Has chronic back pain recently disrupted your life? Back pain is a leading cause of disability worldwide, and one of the most common reasons why patients seek physical therapy.

At Synergy in Colorado Springs, CO, our skilled team of physical therapists is dedicated to teaching our patients and their families about this complex health problem, including why back pain occurs and how to avoid it in the future.

We don’t want you to become resigned to your pain or accept it as a normal part of aging. It is possible to live with less pain and greater function even if you’ve been dealing with a troublesome back for years.

Contact our Colorado Springs, CO clinic today to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed physical therapists, and keep reading to learn five things our team has learned about chronic back pain over the years.

1. A majority of people experience back pain at least once in their lifetime.

Medical research reveals that a vast majority of people (as many as 8 out of 10) will experience at least one episode of back pain at some point in their lifetime. In many of these cases, a person’s pain is not chronic, and painful symptoms subside within a few weeks without the need for medical attention.

However, even if a painful back condition seems to resolve on its own, it’s possible that underlying contributing factors such as inflexibility or poor body mechanics remain. This can increase your likelihood of experiencing recurring back pain and injury. According to several studies, even a history of back pain by itself is considered a risk factor for future health problems.

This is why seeing a physical therapist in Colorado Springs, CO as soon as possible after experiencing back pain can be so helpful for your long-term spinal health. Muscle strains, joint misalignments, degenerative disc disease, disc herniation, and nerve impingement can all be prevented with the intervention of a physical therapist.

2. Many risk factors for chronic back pain are avoidable.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the majority of back pain risk factors are preventable. This is great news for you because it means you can take concrete steps right now to reduce your risk of chronic pain and alleviate your current pain symptoms.

Common preventable risk factors for chronic back pain include:

  • Smoking
  • Sedentary behavior
  • Excessive weight
  • Poor posture
  • Physically demanding jobs (including ones that require frequent sitting, bending, twisting, and heavy lifting) performed without the use of proper body mechanics

Psychological factors like stress, anxiety, and depression can also increase the risk of chronic back pain. At Synergy our physical therapy team takes a holistic approach to treatment plans and is always prepared to refer our patients to mental health professionals when necessary.

3. Surgery and prescription medications are not always your best treatment options.

Many people assume that certain spinal conditions, such as a herniated disc, are treated most effectively with surgery. While surgery can certainly help some patients, invasive procedures like spinal fusions are usually not considered the first best option for chronic back pain conditions.

In fact, research indicates only about half of first-time back surgeries successfully alleviate a person’s symptoms and improve their quality of life. The outcomes of repeat back surgeries are even worse, with fewer than 30 percent of people reporting successful outcomes after a second spine operation.

Some types of surgery can also cause different side effects or complications, including:

  • Lengthy recovery periods
  • Possible wound infection
  • Swelling of the limbs 
  • Bleeding
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain

Meanwhile, physical therapy is recognized by the medical community as one of the first lines of treatment for chronic back pain. Working with a physical therapist may also prevent the need for prescription medications, opioids, and painkillers. These medications all carry the risk of harmful side effects, including addiction and potentially fatal overdoses.

In fact, the side effects of opioids are so severe that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that opioids now be considered as a “last option” for only the most debilitating pain cases.

4. Consistent exercise relieves chronic pain.

If your chronic pain prevents you from being an active participant in your daily routine, exercise may be the last thing on your mind.

At Synergy, we understand how difficult it can feel to pull yourself out of a sedentary lifestyle while you’re experiencing constant aches and pains. But with very few exceptions, participating in some form of daily movement is a vital part of your pain control plan.

Exercise strengthens your muscles and tissues, boosts circulation, reduces chronic inflammation, improves your mood, relieves stress, fights depression, and helps you maintain a healthy weight—all factors that ease and prevent back pain. If you are not already, it is critical to incorporate some form of exercise into your daily routine.

Depending on your current fitness level and severity of pain symptoms, you could benefit from aerobic exercises including walking and cycling, or low-impact exercises such as swimming.

If you want to start getting active but are unsure where to start, contact a physical therapist today. They can prescribe you a safe, effective, and sustainable exercise program that honors your specific needs while helping eliminate your pain.

5. You don’t need to know the exact cause of your back pain to find relief.

Remember how we said that most people will experience back pain at least once in their lives?  Research suggests many of these cases are “idiopathic,” meaning that doctors and physicians cannot determine what exactly is causing a person’s symptoms.

Even imaging tests, including MRIs and X-rays, don’t always provide patients with the root causes of their pain. For example, an MRI may reveal a herniated disc in the spine of a person who has no signs or symptoms whatsoever. Meanwhile, a person with debilitating back pain may have a perfectly “normal” spine as seen on an MRI or X-ray.

Your physical therapist will be well-versed in assessing, diagnosing, and treating spinal problems. Even if the reason for your chronic back pain cannot be determined, you can still benefit from physical therapy! By creating a treatment plan that addresses your symptoms and any evident contributing causes, you can improve your overall health. Examples of contributing causes include poor posture, limited hip and shoulder range of motion, or weak core muscles,

A physical therapist in Colorado Springs, CO can help you unlock long-lasting relief by creating a treatment plan that addresses your symptoms and any known contributing causes of your pain. You may be prescribed therapeutic exercises, or other pain-relieving modalities such as manual therapy, hot and cold therapy, or dry needling.

Are you ready to put an end to your chronic back pain?

You do not deserve to live each day in pain. Our skilled and knowledgeable staff are ready to serve you and ensure your painful symptoms no longer control your life.

Contact Synergy in Colorado Springs, CO today to schedule an appointment with one of our talented and passionate physical therapists. We are looking forward to meeting you!

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