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Manual Therapy for Lower Back Pain

Manual Therapy for Lower Back Pain

If you are a manual therapy practitioner, perhaps you’ll relate to my experience last week.

“Just so you know, today is a bad day for backs.”That was the message that one of our reception team sent to me last Friday morning.Three new patients had called in the day prior, a much higher number than most Fridays through the colder months, and all three had the primary complaint of back pain.

That part is not atypical; low back pain is far and away the most common condition that I treat in my practice, despite us being a full-body, sports-based clinic.But the stats don’t lie, and in fact, up to 85% of working people can expect to experience lower back pain at some point in their lifetime.Couple that with the word “spine” in our clinic name, and it makes sense that a lot of low back pain walks into our office.

And guess what?We are really good at treating low back pain.Really good.The “we” I am referring to are manual therapy practitioners.Manual therapy can make a big difference in a short period of time, and while I don’t have a randomized controlled trial on my patient’s improvement levels to present to you, I can say that our success rate is very high.We are good at what we do, and a large part of what we do is treat low back pain.

I will go a step further and tell you that what patients do outside of my office (things like following rehabilitation exercises and modifying activities appropriately) are far more important than what they do inside my office, or on my treatment table.The hands-on, manual therapy part is a small piece of the puzzle in a lower back complaint.My most effective roles become those of educator (why does my back hurt?), ergonomist (what positions should I modify/avoid?), and personal trainer (what movements should I do to feel better?).My ultimate goal with a lower back pain patient is to avoid a recurrent episode down the road; the cycle of lower back pain is all too common.Again, education, ergonomics, and personal training come into play.

The point?Lower back pain is very common, NOT normal, and very treatable.

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