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Low back pain is one of the most common medical problems and occurs due to injury associated with the nerves, bones, and muscles of the back. The pain can vary from a sharp shooting pain that happens at various intervals to a gnawing pain that can last for weeks on end. While the former can go away with some muscle relaxant, the latter may need a combination of medications and exercise.
Common reasons include improper sleeping posture, lifting, fracture, lack of exercise, disk injuries, arthritis, and many more. Most of these instances would lead to medium to long term pain that will not subside on its own. Physiotherapy has been proven to provide very good relief and render it pain-free.
The aim of physiotherapy is 3-fold - reduce pain, improve movement, and maintain the spinal function in the long run. Most often, the therapy sessions would last for about 4 weeks when the regular course of medications have not helped much.
The nerves, muscles, bones, and disks of the low back are supported by the abdominal muscles and the back muscles. The intent of the exercise is to strengthen these two sets of muscles so that the spine/low back per se is not very susceptible to injury. The exercises would be a combination of stretching followed by strengthening and conditioning, all aimed at these two sets of muscles.
Some common exercises include bottom to heels stretch, knee rolls, back extensions, deep abdominal strengthening, and pelvic tilts.
In addition to being used a sole means of treatment, physiotherapy also is used in back pain to treat severe cases both pre and post surgically. What is corrected by surgery needs to be enhanced by the regular exercises as prescribed by the doctor.
One disclaimer that a doctor might want to give is that the physiotherapy may not be beneficial if exercises are not done properly or if the patients don't adhere to the scheduled prescription. The long-term success depends not just on getting the relief but on following the maintenance exercises that are prescribed. This is more important and helps avoid relapse of the back pain. A good posture and improved core stability with ongoing exercises is the key to success of physiotherapy in low back pain.
While most people consider low back pain as a chronic condition, it can be managed effectively. It is important to realize that there is no overnight cure and that it may not get better on its own. Physiotherapy is a very good intervention; however, it will depend on the severity of pain and how it affects the patient's lifestyle.
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