Are you one of the many millions of Americans who have been bothered by lower back pain? So, you finally stop putting it off and schedule an appointment to see your doctor. After your visit, your doctor orders an MRI to have your back looked at closer. Then, that MRI comes back with “mild degeneration at L4-5, slight bulge disc at L3-4 with mild stenosis at L4-5.” To you, those results might as well have come back in a different language.
You then go back to your doctor and he explains the results to you in vague terms. Basically, he recommends that you stop doing the activities that aggravate your low back. For a better explanation, you ask which movements and activities you need to stop and your doctor says, “The big ones like squatting and bending.”
This is tough to hear because these are important movements you have to do every day. You then think to yourself, “How am I supposed to straighten up the house or go to the bathroom without squatting or bending??”
It can even be tough for an experienced doctor to understand exactly why you are having pain in your lower back. An MRI can give a good indication of the condition of your spine. Many peoples’ spines aren’t in the best shape but and have a lot of normal wear and tear over the course of their life. Those normal life mileages on your spine will affect the pain you experience, but that shouldn’t have to control your life.
Degenerated, bulged, and herniated discs are technically symptoms of bad movement patterns that, ultimately, put a strain on your body for too long.
When looking at it this way, it makes the situation more clear and easily understood that you should look into improving your movement patterns. This then becomes more about a lifestyle change as opposed to a quick fix.
Studies have shown that there are high percentages of degeneration present in many healthy, pain-free patients that undergo MRIs. It is apparent that a large number of MRI-based degenerative features can be attributed to the wear and tear of normal aging which doesn’t leave those living in pain.
Additional studies have shown that healthy people in their 40’s show natural degeneration signs in their imaging:
By focusing on your daily movements and adjusting accordingly, you can ease your low back pain naturally and get back to living the life you had in the past.
1) Flexibility – When you think about becoming more flexible, it’s best to understand that it’s more about stability. You need to ensure you have proper range of motion in your joints and muscles. Too much stress or tight muscles could be forcing dysfunctional movement in your daily life.
2) Posture – It is important to be conscious of the way you sit and stand in your daily life. By developing your core musculature and muscles, this will begin to better stabilize your spine.
3) Thoracic Mobility – When you rotate your body, most of that rotation should come from the hips and upper back, but many people rotate through their low back. This hurts your stability and puts excess pressure on that area of your back.
Physical therapy is a natural option that has brought many patients back to living pain-free. Our Expert Mike King is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and has helped countless patients recover from lower back pain. He has even helped many people use physical therapy as an alternative to undergoing surgery and giving them the freedom of movement after years of dealing with severe pain. MRIs are a great technology for finding degeneration, but better understanding your movement is the key to living a pain-free life!
Schedule an appointment with our Desert Edge Physical Therapy team today and ask about our Free Discovery Session.