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Lumbar Strain: The Need-To-Know's

2/27/14 3:44 PM
Most often referring to a group of muscles called the lumbar paraspinals, lumbar strain is a condition in which these muscles in the low back stretch too far or actually tear from too much stress. These muscles run vertically along the spinal column and suppport the spine, as well as the weight of the upper body.

What causes Lumbar Strain?

  • Poor conditioning
  • Improper lifting/Bending techniques
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Improperly warmed up muscles

Symptoms of Lumbar Strain...

  • Pain around the low back and upper buttocks. This pain is most often aggravated with activity, and alleviated with rest.
  • Low back muscles spasms.
  • If you notice loss of control of bowels or bladder, progressive lower extremity weakness or severe, constant pain - you should contact your physician immediately. These are all signs of a worsening injury to the spine.

The good news, Lumbar Strain can be treated...

  • Physical Therapy.   PT's will instruct you in properly conditioning exercises to recover from the current episode, and prevent another from happening again. Your PT will likely instruct you with some specific stretching and strengthening techniques for the low back, hips and abdomen.
  • Relative Rest.   As lumbar strain is often caused by too much stress to the lumbar paraspinals, your physician and PT will likely prescribe rest or taking it easy, as well as medications. Anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxants are the usual go-to's in cases like these.


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Topics: Low back pain, back pain, strains

What is Spine Control?

2/12/14 3:59 PM
Sit up straight...

Don't slouch...

Sound familiar? We have all probably heard this a time-or-two in our lives. Really, your mother (or your Physical Therapist coworkers!) had your best interest in mind. So why is posture is so important? Proper posture keeps bones and joints in correct alignment, helps decrease the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces (to prevent arthritis), prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions, prevents strain or overuse problems, and contributes to good appearance. 

Spine Control is the concept of maintaining "Neutral Spine Posture" throughout all activities of daily living. In other words, posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while sitting, standing or laying down.

Tips for Maintaining a Neutral Spine

While Sitting...

  • Keep your back straight, and shoulders back. A lumbar roll behind the small of your back may help to maintain this posture. Don't have a lumbar roll? Contact one of our offices to purchase one, or try rolling up a small towel from home.
  • Avoid crossing your legs or sitting with one leg underneath you. This helps to distribute your body weight evenly over both of your hips.
  • Change positions. Avoiding sitting in one position longer than 30 minutes.

While Standing...

  • Align your ears over your shoulders. Tuck your chin and keep eyes forward.
  • Lift your chest bone and pull your shoulders back.
  • Maintain the natural curve of your low back. Tighten those abs to do so.
  • Keep your knees soft and distribute your body weight over the center of each foot.
  • Standing for long periods of time? Try shifting your weight from side-to-side. Putting one foot up on a stool, leaning o
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Topics: Posture, healthy habits, proper posture

Top 8 Interesting Facts about Low Back pain

2/5/14 4:05 PM
The back is a complex structure made up of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles - this means that there are various ways for one to injure the back and therefore various reasons that you might be experiencing low back pain. You can strain a muscle, sprain a ligament, rupture or irritate a joint to name a few. Certain conditions can also cause back pain, such as stenosis, arthritis and spinal curvatures.

Did you know....
  • 31 million Americans are experiencing low back pain at any given time.
  • 50% of working Americans admit to having symptoms of back pain each year.
  • Low back pain affects 80% of people in their lifetime. Men reports symptoms up to 10 years earlier than women.
  • Back pain is one of the leading causes for missed work
  • Back pain is the second leading cause for MD visits each year behind only upper-respiratory infections.
  • Americans spend $50 billion yearly on issues relate to back pain.
  • Most causes of back pain are mechanical - meaning pain is not caused by arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
  • Individuals lifting with a twisting motion are six times more likely to experience an acute disc injury than an individual who lifts properly. (Yikes!)

While it may sound like the odds are against you, you can try to prevent any type of back injury and experiencing low back pain. Keeping your entire body healthy can help! 
  • Avoid prolonged bed rest and remain physically active under the guidance of a therapist, if needed. 
  • Be sure to warm muscles up for physical activity - stretch before & after the activity!
  • Maintain proper posture. Avoid slouched sitting throughout the day.
  • Practice safe lifting techniques. Lift with your legs, keeping objects close to your body. Avoid twisting motions while lifting.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and diet. As a general rule, we each should get 30 mins of moderate physical activity on most days of the week, combined with a healthy diet. The Department of Health & Human Services recommends balancing calorie intake with physical activity to manage weight, consuming more fruits, vegetables & whole grains. They also recommend consuming fewer foods with salts(sodium), saturated & trans fats, added sugar and refined grains. Review the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 or browse for further information by visiting their website with the link provided.

For more information regarding prevention of low back injuries, proper lifting techniques and recommended exercises for the low back, we think you might also be interested in...

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Topics: Low back pain, healthy habits, pain