Back & Spine

Man holding sore back

Back pain or injuries can be a result of playing sports, improper body mechanics, work- or auto-related accidents, falls, and many other day-to-day occurrences.

The back is made of bones, muscles, and other tissues which makes it a very complex part of the body. Due to this complexity, the back is susceptible to a variety of mild to extreme injuries.

How do you know if you’re at risk for a back injury?

Some of the most common back injuries are a result of:

  • Weak back and/or core muscles
  • Tight hamstrings
  • Overextending or curving the lower back
  • Being overweight
  • Improper body and/or lifting mechanics
  • Improper gait or walking patterns

At the base of the spine there are two firm, small joints that provide spine stability. These joints have a small range of motion and are responsible for maintaining stability during normal movements, like walking or twisting. When these movements are flawed or improper, they typically result in SI (sacroiliac joint) dysfunction, which typically leads to back pain and lack of mobility.

Symptoms of SI dysfunction vary widely and include lower extremity numbness, tingling, pain, weakness, pelvic pain, and more.

This condition involves fragmentation, herniation, and/or loss of the ‘cushioning’ between vertebrae. Spinal disks are rubbery cushions between vertebrae that act as shock absorbers, as we age, these disks will naturally degenerate, which can allow for the bones to rub together – which, understandably, can cause extreme pain. It can also lead to herniated disks, adult scoliosis, spondylolisthesis, or spinal stenosis.

Overstretching or pulling a muscle in the back is common among all age groups. When a muscle is overstretched or tears, the surrounding tissues typically become inflamed which can easily lead to back spasms, stiffness, lack of mobility, or additional injury due to compensation.

This condition occurs when the soft center of a spinal disc pushes through a crack in the tougher exterior casing. Bulging or herniated discs sometimes have no symptoms or related pain, while others can irritate the surrounding nerves, resulting in numbness, pain, and/or extremity weakness.

You might benefit from physical therapy if you have:

  • Acute and chronic lower back and neck pain
  • Muscle-tension headaches
  • Pain extending into the arms or legs
  • General arthritic back complaints
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Work-related back pain
  • Recently had back surgery

Physical therapy for back injuries varies widely, but may include:

  • Stabilization-based exercises
  • Gait training
  • Posture training
  • Core strengthening
  • Dynamic stretching