You may be thinking, "Wait, self-treat my back pain... isn't that your job?" As a physical therapist I often work with people that have low back pain. It shouldn't be any surprise, as it affects around two thirds or more of residents of the United States. The fact of the matter is, our current health care system does not empower people with the knowledge that they need to take action at the first onset of low back pain. Most people don't even know who to see first. If I may get on a very small soapbox for just a moment... very small... physical therapy should always be the first choice of practitioner in treating low back pain. Yes, even before your primary care physician, even before you get an X-ray or an MRI, and even before Chiropractic. Direct access laws allow this and that is their purpose; to avoid needing a referral first. But even BEFORE physical therapy, you should have the tools needed to at least do something for yourself when it first happens. My job is not done if you are not empowered with the knowledge to help yourself. For the next 11 weeks I will be writing a post just like this one sharing some of that knowledge with you about the steps that YOU can take to self-treat low back pain. That is the intent of this series. To skip the steps below and watch the video, please click here.
Let's talk about the essential first steps (these are outlined in the video below as well):
Step 1. Assess the situation - After that first *twang* in your back - stop - breathe - try to see if you can move. If you can move without increasing your pain, then go to step 2.
Step 2. Try gently move your back in different directions and seek out movement that relieves pain and/or seek a position of comfort that reduces your pain as you remain in that position.
Step 3. Keep moving. Find that direction of motion that feels better and keep moving your back in that direction. This may be a stretch to your back muscles, it may be backward bending at the waist, etc. You will know if it isn't going to help you very quickly.
Step 4. Keep MOVING! - Motion is lotion. Keeping your back moving will help keep the joints lubricated and the soft tissues and connective tissues from getting "sticky." Walking daily is essential to keep your entire body moving fluidly and prevent loss of muscle, including the muscle on and around your spine. Bedrest is the last thing that you need, particularly with back pain.
The video linked below explains all of this in some more detail and is the first in the series. Take these steps now: 1) Please watch this video next. 2) Save the playlist for future reference. 3) Subscribe to my YouTube channel to get notified of even more self-help tools, and 4) Like and SHARE this with others! You never know how impactful an action that small can be and it is an act of kindness for the one you share with.
Thanks for reading my post today. Be empowered, and you'll be hearing from me next week!
Hyland Physical Therapy offers free discovery visit/consultation. We see clients in our clinic, at their home/office, or online via telehealth calls.
Dr. Michael Hyland, DPT, CEEAA has been a physical therapist since 2012. He is a Certified Exercise Expert for the Aging Adult and an expert in Parkinson's Disease. He owns Hyland Physical Therapy and Wellness in Broken Arrow, OK