Do you have to endure chronic back pain?
By Dr. Adam M. Cramer, PT, DPT
Between 60 and 80% of people currently living in the United States will experience chronic back pain at some point in their lives. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, it is one of the most common occupational disorders in the country.
The problem also extends far beyond our borders.
A study based on data from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study suggests this condition is behind more disability around the world than any other ailment. Overall, the researchers concluded, chronic low back pain is at the top in terms of years lost to disability, with nearly one in 10 people impacted by it.
The study, published in the Journal of the Rheumatic Diseases, noted that the problem is just going to get worse as populations continue to age around the world.
What kind of relief can you expect?
If you are one of the millions of people impacted by this life-restricting condition, must you resign yourself to living with the pain or look for relief?
If you opt for the latter, there is a good chance you can experience relief by undergoing physical therapy.
At MyoFit Clinic in Middlefield, OH we have had great success in helping clients find relief from their chronic pain who gradually improve strength from exercise and resume their normal level of activity again.
There are a number of therapies we use to accomplish this.
Physical therapy with strength and mobility programs
When physical therapy is coupled with specially prescribed motor control exercises, only which a licensed physical therapist can prescribe, we have observed significant success in treating patients with chronic low back pain.
The focus of these special exercises is to improve the neuromuscular control of those body segments involved in movement of the spine in order to improve stability of the spine making it stronger.
In essence, while chronic back pain is not usually a “quick fix,” the condition can often be treated effectively with a combination of different physical therapies. Physical therapy aims to correct the debilitating dysfunction versus only just treating the symptoms. You will learn exactly how do you treat your back by yourself and independently.
Intramuscular Stimulation – Dry Needling
At MyoFit Clinic we have also brought relief to many sufferers of chronic back pain by using a advanced treatment procedure known as Intramuscular Stimulation or Dry Needling.
This is a unique procedure requiring specialized training on the part of your physical therapist. It is designed to target muscle function to improve tissue healing and muscle restoration. It is especially effective if your back pain is linked to an underlying injury.
If you are recommended to have dry needling, you can expect to be treated with thin solid filament dry needles that will deactivate and desensitize trigger points within the muscle itself. These trigger points are known to contribute to pain, poor muscle function, low blood circulation and reduced flexibility.
Dry needling is safe and very effective in the treatment of pain caused by neuromuscular problems.
Chronic lower back pain can also be relieved substantially with massage therapy offered at our clinic by a licensed medical massage therapist.
In fact, a 2011 scientific study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that massage helps people with back pain to function even after six months.
Lead researcher Dr. Daniel C. Cherkin, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute, said that was important since when people can function, they are better able to work, take care of themselves and be active.
The trial involved 400 people who had been suffering from low back pain for at least three months. In all cases, the exact cause of their pain could not be ascertained. They were randomly placed in one of three groups.
One group received hour long massage therapy weekly for 10 weeks. One received a relaxation massage weekly for 10 weeks. The others received usual care which meant medication to cope with the pain.
After 10 weeks, more than 1/3 patients who received either type of massage said their back pain was either much better or gone, compared to only one in 25 who were taking medication. Patients who underwent massage therapy also spent fewer days in bed, were more active and used fewer anti-inflammatory medications that those who were treated solely with medication.
The official name for laser therapy is Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) but we have also heard it referred to as soft laser and therapeutic laser.
This is how it works:
Low levels of laser light are directed at the painful area. The laser light stimulates cells and tissues in that area. The laser light speeds the tissue repair process.
Approved for use in 2002 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, it was originally used on professional athletes to speed their healing process and quickly get them back in the game.
In more recent years, however, it has worked its way into mainstream medicine and can now be found in a number of physical therapy clinics.
Two scientific studies in particular impacted us to add cold laser to our treatment list for joint pain.
In 2003, a study by J.M. Bjordal and his colleagues at the University of Bergen in Norway investigated if LLLT of the joint capsule could reduce pain in chronic joint disorders. They looked into 88 randomized controlled trials, of which 20 trails included patients with chronic joint disorders.
“Low level laser therapy with the suggested dose range significantly reduces pain and improves health status in chronic joint disorders,” the scientists concluded.
Physical therapy is not something that can be done on your own or by any other health/medical practitioner. You need the critical and trained eye of a licensed doctor of physical therapy in order to assess and determine appropriate diagnosis, limitations and treatments for your pain. So, if you have never sought the guidance and direction from a therapist, what is keeping you away from being pain free? Call our licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy at MyoFit Clinic in order to keep Moving Foward!
Dr. Adam M. Cramer, PT, DPT, is a licensed physical therapist, pain specialist and owner of MyoFit Clinic in Chardon and Middlefield, Ohio.
Hoy, D., March, L., Brooks, P. et al. (2014) The global burden of low back pain: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. March 24, 2014. Retrieved from: http://ard.bmj.com/content/early/2014/02/14/annrheumdis-2013-204428
DeSantana, J. M., Walsh, D. M., Vance, C. et al. (2008) Effectiveness of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation for Treatment of Hyperalgesia and Pain. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2746624/.
Cherkin, D.C., Sherman, K.J. et al. (2011) A Comparison of the Effects of 2 types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: A randomized controlled trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. July 5, 2011. Retrieved from: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=747008
Biordal, JM, Couppe C., Chow RT, Tuner J., and Ljunggren, EA. (2003) A systematic review of low level laser therapy with location-specific doses for pain from chronic joint disorders. The Physical Therapy Journal, 2003; 49(2): 107-16 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12775206