Pain affecting the lower part of the back characterizes the common condition simply called low back pain. Usually, low back pain goes away after a few days or weeks. You have acute low back pain if you have been experiencing pain for less than six weeks. However, if the pain persists for more than twelve weeks then you have a chronic condition.
Low back pain may occur suddenly or gradually. Although the lower back is the main body part affected, the pain may go into other areas of the body such as the buttocks down to the legs and feet.
Strain to the muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones are the main causes of low back pain. However, what causes the strain differs from one person to another so it best to consult with your doctor.
For acute low back pain, it is important not to overexert yourself nor stay completely inactive. You may feel like staying in bed will get rid of the pain but in fact doctors do not recommend long periods of bed rest in this case. It is best to continue with your normal activities but at a gradual pace. Some exercises may not be helpful at all at the onset of pain. However, after a couple of weeks you may do some aerobic exercises. Avoid putting pressure on your lower back when you exercise.
If the pain continues for three weeks, it is best to seek professional physical therapy treatment for chronic low back pain. A qualified physical therapist is knowledgeable on the specific needs of a person suffering low back pain and will be able to design and administer individualized physical therapy treatment for chronic low back pain.
Physical therapy treatment for chronic low back pain starts with educating the patient about correct movement and posture. Some physical therapists use methods of therapy that apply heat, electric stimulation and ultrasound to the affected area. Physical therapy treatment for chronic low back pain involves specific exercises to improve flexibility and strengthen back muscles especially those that support the spine.
Physical therapy treatment for chronic low back pain may include one or a combination of any of these exercises: low-impact aerobics, swimming, biking, walking, strength training exercises on the lumbar extension, regular flexibility exercises, contraction exercises that retrains back muscles, and yoga, tai chi, or Pilates exercise programs.
According to some studies, the exercises above are some of the effective ways to treat chronic low back pain. Again, theories and approach as to what is the best treatment varies but exercise and physical therapy done with consistency and professional guidance definitely play an important role.