Pain grips its claws into either side of your spine, relentless to never let go. Wringing your vertebrae like a soaked towel – its drippings electricity searching for ground. Persisting for months on end, the meds become like vitamins – inherently meant for good, but their immediate effects unfulfilling. The dilemma: take the conservative route or opt for surgery? Desperate for relief, you weigh your options.
Surgery of the Lumbar Spine is a controversial topic. Despite the controversy, however, these surgeries are being performed more and more often in recent years. It’s likely you know at least one person who’s had one. You might also know someone who’s chosen conservative treatment instead. So, which is better?
Chances are, you’ve had low back pain before. You know how debilitating it can be. When it strikes, one of the first thoughts that go through your head is “is this normal?” The severity of the pain tells you it can’t be normal to feel this way. Thoughts begin to spin through your head – “What did I do to myself? Did I tear something? Do I have a bulging disc? Do I need to get an MRI to find out what’s wrong with me?”
My answer: NO.
Let me explain…
Have you had low back pain before? The most common source of pain in patients I see each day for Physical Therapy is low back pain. Low back pain, more than any other type of pain spans a large age range, as well. I get teenagers, new moms, middle-aged men and women, and elderly folks all complaining of the same thing. My job as a Physical Therapist is to help people like YOU prevent this pain.
Before a patient comes to see me, they have to go through a referral process from their doctor and schedule an appointment. This process usually takes anywhere from 2-3 weeks. It’s not a perfect system, but it is what it is. Therefore, it isn’t uncommon for someone to show up for their appointment only to tell me that their low back pain is already gone. Oftentimes, low back pain will go away on its own with time. The problem is that it can frequently recur. So the question isn’t how can we make your pain go away, but how can we stop it from coming back?
Regardless of whether a patient has current pain or not, I hardly ever spend the appointment treating the pain itself – this is just a symptom. No, more important is dealing with the cause of the pain.
When people come to see me for low back pain, we don’t work on how to make the pain go away, we work on how to prevent the pain from coming back in the future.
The same is true for you. You can do things today that will help prevent low back pain tomorrow.