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“Lower Back Pain”

Lower back pain is an unpleasant symptom(s) directed mainly to the lumbar spine, and can be classified as acute, subacute or chronic.  As your lower back pain is ongoing, then this becomes a determining factor on short and long term outcomes during the stages of recovery.  Generally, the longer your lower back pain continues, the more time it will take to resolve it.

Lower back pain is broken up into three stages:

Stage I.  Acute- Lower back pain occurring within the first three weeks.
Stage II.  Subacute- Lower back pain occurring between the third and 12 weeks.
Stage III.  Chronic- Lower back pain lasting longer than 12 weeks.

Where is Your Lower Back Pain?

Depending on where your lower back pain is located, it can mean a number of different diagnosis’.  Right side back pain can be different in origin to left side back pain.  Often lower back pain with radiating leg pain, also known as sciatica, can mean a bulging or herniated disc.

Lower back pain can be confusing, even to some physicians.  Your primary care doctor may need to refer you to a specialist for a proper diagnosis of your lower back pain condition.  Orthopedic physicians and pain management doctors are good at treating your lower back pain.  Determine which doctor is best for your lower back pain.

What kind of lower back pain do you have?

Lower back pain is known to be associated with  a lumbar sprain, bulging discs, herniated discs, sciatica, spinal stenosis, scoliolis, spondylolisthesis, and others.  While you may be afflicted by one or possibly more lower back pains, it will be important to know which condition(s) you have for proper back  pain therapy treatment.

Examples on how low back pain can be treated .
  1. Bulging or herniated disc lower back pain - Treat with a lumbar traction device to lose back pain.
  2. Spinal stenosis lower back pain – Treat with flexion pattern back exercises to reduce lower back pain symptoms.
  3. Scoliosis back pains – Treat with back pain exercises to restore weaker muscles on the convex side and improve flexibility of the muscles on the concave side.
  4. Spondylolisthesis- Treat with core training to improve spinal stability.
  5. Lumbar sprains- Treat with gentle range of motion, cold packs, and physical therapy.

Symptoms of Lower Back Pains

Bulging disc, herniated disc, Sciatica- Lower back pains, shooting pain, numbness, tingling into the leg.  Difficulty sitting and driving.

Spinal Stenois- Lower back pain, referred pain into both legs, difficulty walking and standing.  Pain is usually better in sitting positions.

Lumbar Sprains, Lumbar strains- Lower back pain, muscle spasms, inflammation.

Scoliosis- Lower back pain, fatique, muscle aches, and in severe cases difficulty breathing. Abnormal curvature causes asymmetry in shoulder height.

Spondylolisthesis- Lower back pain, muscle spasms, stiffness, tenderness of lower back muscles, possible neurological symptoms.

Treating Lower Back Pain

An exercise prescription can be appropriate for many forms of lower back pain.  Flexion based exercises (i.e. Knee to chest) are a major proponent for the treatment of some conditions.  Extension based exercises are prescribed for treating lower back pain associated with bulging or herniated discs. 

Core training can be essential in restoring the health of some “bad back” conditions where spinal stability is lacking.  Training core muscles like the transverse abdominus and multifidus muscles is the key ingredient necessary for proper spinal stabilization.

Back stretches for lower back pain can be an excellent way to improve flexibility and restore muscle imbalances.  Correcting tight muscles can reduce lower back pain.

See your physician for the proper exercise prescription to eliminate your lower back pains. 


Tommy Hoffman, P.T. By Tommy Hoffman, Licensed Physical Therapist


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