When it comes to low back pain, there is no shortage of providers you can go see. You can see your primary care physician, a chiropractor, a massage therapist, a physical therapist, a yoga instructor, an orthopedic physician and even a neurosurgeon.
You may be asking, how do I then decide who is the right choice for me?
Some people want to avoid medications, surgery, and injections at all costs. This narrows the field of potential practitioners off the bat. If you are to see a physician, very likely you will be prescribed medication, given some kind of diagnostic test (X-ray or MRI) and then prescribed physical therapy. The involvement of specialists (orthopedic spine physicians and neurosurgeons is often not the first line of defense).
Some practitioners offer more conservative approaches to treatment of low back pain. Massage therapists offer soft tissue work and stretching to address pain and limitations. Yoga instructors offer movement based interventions. Some pure Chiropractors believe that disease processes stem from a malalignment of the vertebrae (bones in your spine.) Their treatment is thus geared toward adjusting the spine so that the nervous system can function properly.
I can speak the most intelligently about physical therapists. We are movement specialists who address our patient’s impairments to help them stay active and pain free. A good physical therapist looks at the movements of your whole body to see if there are compensations in the normal patterns of movement, to find muscle weakness, to find joint restrictions, tight muscles, poor balance, and assess how a patient’s environment and activities may be affecting their pain and limitations. From there, we start to address those impairments and very often pain subsides and we can ramp activity back up.
Another difference I see in good practitioners is the ability to help patients with low back pain become independent. If you are constantly receiving care and are not taking an active role in your own recovery and health, I think you are not being properly cared for. I don’t know too many practitioners that you can take on vacation with you to help you when your back gets flared up. Because there are so many factors that play a role in a patient’s pain a very multimodal approach to intervention is indicated.
Brian, what do you mean by multi-modal approaches in low back pain treatment? I mean that there has to be a combination of manual therapy (hands on techniques) and active exercise. I do not believe in passive approaches to care. I am not going to stick you on a TENS unit (thing that makes your skin tingle) with an ice pack for 15 minutes while I catch up on notes. What in life has come easy to you without having to put in work or effort? I am telling you now that dealing with your body is no different and in fact often is harder work.
I don’t like to give generic advice and exercises, but there are recommendations and movements that are well researched that can help reduce the risk of injury and also help alleviate current pain that may be stemming from your back. This advice does not mean that you should not go see a skilled medical provider that will employ the above mentioned approaches to your care.
Over the next weeks I will be providing this information on how you can get back to doing the things you love, after all, we can all live with some pain, but when it starts to interfere with our hobbies and interests, we have to say enough!
If this advice and these movements help you, please feel free to let me know. Write it in the comments below.
I appreciate you reading and let me know if I can be of further service to you.
Here’s to helping you reach your PINNACLE!
Dr. Brian Murphy , DPT, OCS, ATC, PES, TPI II Medical
Owner of PInnacle Physical Therapy
5507 Ranch Dr Suite 203
Little Rock, AR 72223
Frozen shoulder syndrome is a condition that effects people’s ability to do their daily activities. This article is a resource for education and guidance on what to do if you think you have this condition. It does not take the place of a skilled assessment by a highly trained medical professional (ME!). Feel free to use the information, but if you are not seeing progress I would like you to reach out to me so I can hear your story and be a further resource for you.Read More
Orthopedic physical therapy is the specialty practice of evaluating the patient’s body and its movements. As a physical therapist we specialize in optimizing movement which may be altered from a variety of circumstances. One way happens to people who maintain habitual postures. When you think of someone who sits at a desk or performs repetitive tasks, they are predisposed to abnormal forces which can lead to musculo-skeletal pain or limitation. Physical therapists can help modify the work environment to help minimize forces while at the same time make the patient more tolerant to those forces so that there is not tissue breakdown and therefore pain.
As an orthopedic physical therapist we also specialize in helping people who are having joint issues. As we age there can be degenerative changes that occur in our joints. The joints that come to mind first are of course the knee and hip. In those situations, physical therapists help a patient to develop a plan that will prevent limitation in daily activities as well as hobbies while at the same time help them with pain management and prevention of surgery in a very holistic way which is proven by research to help in most cases.
Another way an orthopedic physical therapist can help a patient, which in my opinion is the most effective is in injury prevention. We are trained to do thorough assessments of your nervous and musculo-skeletal systems to see if they are performing optimally. I bring up the example of doing your yearly physical with your primary care doctor. We all know the value of having a physician listen to our heart, check our blood pressure, perform blood work and check in on our internal systems to ward off disease and help cure our ailments. Why not also have a yearly checkup with your movement specialist who can help you stay active in a noninvasive way by warding off potential injuries before they happen and sideline you from doing the things you enjoy.
There is a great resource for consumers of health to educate themselves on their options when it comes to treating pain and limitation. There is a movement called GetPT1st which highlights in more detail the benefits of seeing an orthopedic physical therapist. I urge you to check out this resource and see if physical therapy will be right for you.
If you are in the Little Rock area, there is an orthopedic clinic specialist which is a credential that very few physical therapists have in the country let alone the state. He is willing to help analyze your movement, educate you on a specific plan of care catered to your needs, and empower you by teaching you what you need to do at home to get the best timely outcome.
Check out www.pinnacledpt.com and Dr. Brian Murphy for more information.
Over the Top
This swing characteristic is very common in higher handicap golfers. This commonly occurs with overuse of the upper body on the downswing portion of the swing. The player brings their club from outside to in and does not keep in in the slot. The slot is the intended swing path of the club that is ideal to put the club face squarley on the ball.
If you have this swing characteristic it is common for you to pull the shot if your clubface is square and for you to slice the shot if your club face is open at impact. This fault makes it very difficult for you to consistently strike the center of the club face when you make contact with the ball.
This swing characteristic can be seen if you have a hard time with disassociation. Disassociation is huge in the golf swing; this is the ability for you to keep one area of your body stable while moving another part of your body. Their is an ideal sequence to moving the parts of your body during the downswing. If for instance you have stiffness in your hips or pelvis and they are not moving effectively, it is not uncommon to see a golfer using more of their upper body to swing the club, this often leads to the over the top swing fault.
A proper weight shift is also critical to prevent this swing fault. A right handed golfer shifts their weight from the trail leg the lead leg very early in the downswing. If you have poor balance, or decreased core and glute strength it will force you to not shift as effectively and you end up coming over the top.
There are drills you can perform to help with disassociation, and mobility of the upper and lower body.
The stretch above is a great way to work on your mobility and the stretching of key areas in your body that need mobility to make a powerful golf swing.