What Causes Back Pain?
There are a variety of problems and pathology that cause low back pain. These range from joint inflammation, soft tissue and facial tightness, disc herniation, degenerative disc disease, stenosis and lumbar nerve root inflammation or impingement.
Low back pain is second only to the common cold as a reason for doctor office visits in the United States. Why is low back pain so common? Today’s jobs and functional activities are contributing to worsening posture and body mechanics, causing increased load and stress to the spine.
One common pathology we see here (but it doesn't account for all of our back pain patients) is Degenerative Disc Disease, or DDD. It is the process of losing disc height. The inner most part of the intervertebral disc, called the nucleus pulposus, loses fluid and often small cracks or fissures develop in outer annulus of disc.
DDD is not necessarily a "normal" process of aging, but a common process. It is often a progression of previous disc herniation or bulge, but can occur at the same time. DDD can occur in individuals as young as 30 years old, and into 90 years of age.
Common Symptoms of DDD include :
How do we treat back pain?
All current research concludes that the only long-term effective treatment for low back pain of all pathologies is therapeutic exercise. Other modalities, such as massage, joint mobilization, or electrical stimulation are not strongly supported by research at this time.
So what is therapeutic exercise? It is exercise which helps to facilitate support and healing of the injured tissue. The specific exercises prescribed must be related to the type of pathology or structure creating the low back pain.
Pilates has become one of the most commonly prescribed therapeutic exercise treatments for low back pain. The movement principles of Pilates align with what allows for the extremely efficient healing of low back pain.
The Principles of Pilates:
Our clients feel the benefits early on in their program, and most often continue working with us even after symptoms have resolved. Our physical therapists and pilates instructors work together to continue tailoring your exercise program. We grow alongside you at every step of your journey.
Our primary goal is to allow our clients to heal and return to a fulfilling, pain-free lifestyle.
Below is a brief video of intermediate level core exercises generally safe for most low back conditions. However we strongly encourage you to meet with us for an individual evaluation, so exercises can be tailored specifically to your spine condition.
Are you menopausal, perimenopausal, or postmenopausal?Have you had a recent bone density scan?
Osteopenia & Osteoporosis are becoming an epidemic in our society. Millions of women (and men) have these conditions without knowing it. This is because these are “silent” conditions which often do not exhibit symptoms, and therefore are not addressed properly or in a timely fashion.
What is Osteopenia & Osteoporosis?
Osteopenia is a condition where bone mineral density is lower than normal. Its defined as a bone mineral density score between -1.0 and -2.5, and is considered by many doctors to be a precursor to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a progressive bone disease that is characterized by a decrease in bone mass and density which can lead to an increased risk of fracture. Osteoporosis is defined as a bone mineral density score of -2.5 standard deviations or more below the mean peak bone mass. Medication is typically indicated.
What are the risk factors for these conditions?
What are the complications of these conditions?
Bone fractures, particularly in the spine or hip, are the most serious complication of osteoporosis. Hip fractures often are caused by a fall and can result in disability and even an increased risk of death within the first year after the injury. In some cases, spinal fractures can occur even if you haven't fallen causing back pain, lost height and a hunched forward posture.
How is Osteopenia & Osteoporosis treated?
Treatment varies considerably among physicians and practitioners, but usually includes hormone balancing, exercises specific for bone health, a healthy diet rich in calcium, vitamin D and magnesium, and bone building supplements or medications.
Exercises which improve posture (decreasing round back kyphosis position), strengthen the spinal muscles and hip muscles in particular.
Balance exercises are also important to decrease fall risk, and potential fracture related to falls.
Below is our video of exercises beneficial for bone density.
If you have been diagnosed with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis, we can design a fitness plan for you that will keep your strong, stable, and safe.
Give us a call to book your first appointment.
Ariel Lehaitre, Author