Is your truck giving you a bad back? Or does it come from being hunched over a computer all day? Regardless of occupation, the accumulated wear and tear our bodies experience daily puts us at risk of experiencing spinal pain, particularly in the lower back and neck. Back and neck pain are so common that nearly everyone will have an episode of back or neck pain during their lives.
Physical therapy is often very helpful in dealing with these conditions. There are many approaches to deal with chronic back pain, our goal is to work with individual patients to design a treatment program that fits your lifestyle. We are specialists at sorting out the complex causes of your pain. We address and treat problems, not just symptoms. We inform and educate why a body hurts and what you can do about it. We use evidence based practice, which means patients leave treatment with less pain, greater mobility and information that will help them stay healthy.
Cervical Strain – Overuse, such as too many hours hunched over a desk or a steering wheel, often triggers muscle strains. Neck muscles, particularly those in the back of your neck, become fatigued and eventually strained. When you overuse your neck muscles repeatedly, chronic pain can develop. Even minor activities such as reading in bed or gritting your teeth can strain neck muscles.
Headache – Headaches are often caused by disorders of the neck or physical and emotional tension. Studies show that cervical headaches account for between 15% and 20% of all chronic and recurrent headaches. Cervical headaches stem from musculoskeletal dysfunctions that include abnormal upper cervical joint mobility, trigger points in the cervical muscles, and decreased strength and endurance in the deep cervical flexors. Cervical headaches are the most common persistent symptom following neck trauma; poor sitting posture and stress are also often associated with headaches of cervical origin.
Herniated Disc – The vertebrae of the spinal column are separated by disks made of cartilage. The inner portion of each disk is soft, enabling the disk to act as a shock absorber to cushion the surrounding vertebrae during movement. Injury or wear and tear with age can cause disks to degenerate and allow the soft inner portion of the disk to rupture through the outer layer. Pain results when this ruptured portion compresses or irritates a nerve root.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis – Lumbar spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal and neural foramen (the passageway for nerves as they leave the spine) that can cause pressure on nerve roots and result in leg pain and other neurological symptoms. Typically, people with symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis have difficulty walking for extended periods. Walking can bring on a cramping kind of pain in the legs; it can hurt enough to make the person stop and sit down. Typically, the pain rapidly subsides once the person sits.
Neck Pain – Because the neck is so mobile and less protected than the rest of the spine, it is vulnerable to injury and disorders that produce pain and restrict motion. Neck pain, when experienced, may originate from any of the structures in the neck. It may also come from or cause pain in areas near the neck, such as the shoulder, jaw, head, and upper arms.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) – A repetitive strain injury (RSI), also called cumulative trauma disorder (CTD), occupational overuse syndrome, or work related upper limb disorder is any of a loose group of conditions resulting from overuse of a tool, eg. computer, guitar or knife, or other activity that requires repeated movements. It is a syndrome that affects muscles, tendons and nerves in the hands, arms and upper back. Good posture, ergonomics and limiting time in stressful working conditions can help prevent or halt the progress of the disorder. Stretches, strengthening exercises, and biofeedback training to reduce neck and shoulder muscle tension can help heal existing disorders.
Sciatica -The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, running from the pelvis through the buttock and hip area and down the back of each leg. It controls many of the muscles in the lower legs and provides feeling to the thighs, legs, and feet. Sciatica refers to pain that radiates down from the buttock to the back of one thigh and into the leg. This pain is often caused by a herniated disk in the lower spinal column that is pressing on the roots to the sciatic nerve.
Spondylolisthesis – Spondylolysis is a stress fracture in one of the spine’s vertebrae. If the stress fracture weakens the bone so much that it cannot maintain its proper position, the vertebra can start to shift out of place. This condition is called spondylolisthesis. In physical therapy, postural retraining and stabilization exercise can help stabilize a spondylolisthesis. If too much slippage occurs, the bones may begin to press on nerves and surgery may be necessary to correct the condition.
Scoliosis – Scoliosis is a lateral (toward the side) curvature in the normally straight vertical line of the spine. The normal spine curves gently backward in the upper back and gently inward in the lower back. When a person with scoliosis is viewed from the back, the spine appears to be curved. Postural training, education and exercise can be helpful in preventing scoliosis from progressing.
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