You DO have hope. No matter the level of back pain you are experiencing, there are countless spine and pain management options readily available. You don’t have to go straight to injections, surgery, or other invasive procedures. Physical therapy is an option.
For an insider look into how physical therapy can help relieve pain, we consulted a leading chronic back pain expert, Dr. Brandon Claflin of Oklahoma. Now, which would be better for you – wading through an online hodgepodge of information to find solutions to your back pain, or consulting an expert? Since chronic back pain is all that Dr. Claflin and his team focus on, he is the ideal person to seek advice. Keep reading to get real answers, as well as some “ah-ha” moments, on how physical therapy really does have your back!
Leading Chronic Back Pain Expert – Dr. Brandon Claflin of Oklahoma
Dr. Claflin is a board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation physician with subspecialty board certification in Pain Medicine. Additionally, he is a fellowship-trained spine and pain management specialist who focuses on conservative treatments such as physical therapy, medications, and spinal injections to diagnose and treat pain. He closely collaborates with neurologists, psychologists, orthopedic and spine surgeons/neurosurgeons, physiatrists, oncologists, psychiatrists, physical/occupational therapists, and chiropractors. Please take a moment to learn more about his practice at OKspinepain.com.
To help determine if physical therapy can aid in relieving your chronic back pain, the team at Food N Health interviewed Dr. Brandon Claflin to get his expert advice and insight.
How Did I Get Chronic Back Pain?
Chronic back pain means you have suffered from pain for over 3 months. According to Doctor Brandon Claflin of Oklahoma, common causes of back pain are when the following go untreated:
- Intervertebral disc degeneration. This is one of the most common mechanical causes of low back pain. It occurs when the usually rubbery discs lose integrity as a normal process of aging.
- Radiculopathy. Sciatica is a form of this condition and is caused by compression, inflammation, and/or injury to a spinal nerve root.
- Traumatic injury. Incidents such as falls, car accidents, or playing sports can injure tendons, ligaments, or muscles, resulting in low back pain.
- Skeletal irregularities. These include scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that does not usually cause pain until middle age; lordosis, an abnormally accentuated arch in the lower back, and other congenital anomalies of the spine.
- Lifestyle. Being overweight puts pressure on your lower back, which can result in pain. Other activities, such as not eating nutritious foods, as well as inactivity, like sitting for long periods of time or not working out, can also lead to chronic pain.
The above are just a few causes of chronic back pain. However, working with a top spine and pain management physical therapist who utilizes X-rays, MRIs, and lab work will help pinpoint the exact causes.
Physical Therapy + Chronic Back Pain Relief
Functional backs are happy backs! Meaning, one without pain. Physical therapy may get you back to functioning properly again, and to that happy place. It is important to work with an expert physical therapist and pain management physician, such as Dr. Brandon Claflin in Oklahoma, to help you find real relief.
A chronic back pain physical therapy program may include:
- Cold laser therapy. This could include not only cold laser therapy, but massage therapy as well; both are meant to soothe, warm, and relax tight muscles and connective tissues.
- Lifestyle changes. The goal would be to prevent unnecessary strain due to improper and/or awkward workplace or sports ergonomics.
- Strengthening exercises. These will help you enjoy better spinal support and maintain a straighter posture, which leads to less pain.
- Flexibility exercises. The goal is to gently and carefully extend your pain-free range of back motion.
- Stabilization exercises. This will help keep your spinal components in place as you perform everyday tasks, from sitting on the couch to getting out of the car.
- Orthotics. They will help compensate for foot or leg imbalances that strain your muscles.
- Cryo- and heat therapies. Alternating between both can help to relieve tissue pain and inflammation.
Dr. Brandon Claflin’s Top Tips
- As a general rule, physical therapy should relieve pain, not cause more. If you are doing something that is especially painful, you should stop. This also goes for everyday life. Pain should be a warning to stop what you are doing to avoid causing further injury to yourself.
- Make a point to actually go to physical therapy. Yes, some of the exercises you can do at home—and you most definitely should if your physical therapist recommends it. However, we often get easily distracted at home: your child wants to play with you; a text comes through that requires a response; and then there is the laundry or other chores that should be done. Again, too many distractions!
Additionally, doing the exercises correctly is critical. If you don’t do them right, you could actually be causing more harm than good. Having your therapists there will ensure you do things correctly, and further provide guidance on managing pain after your therapy ends.
- Don’t trust Dr. Google. If you Google, “how to cure my lower back pain,” you could get all sorts of unreliable information, from detecting a cancer tumor to trying some new supplement. For honest solutions, work with an expert chronic back pain physical therapist who will create a unique healing plan just for your needs, goals, and lifestyle.
Physical therapy can provide beneficial tools for relieving chronic back pain. Dr. Claflin in Oklahoma suggests that it may be one of the many forms of therapy you use. Often his patients respond best to a well-rounded healing plan that may also include medicines, injections, and other forms of therapy.
Make today the start of your path to healing! If you are in Oklahoma, visit Dr. Claflin’s Oklahoma Interventional Spine & Pain comprehensive clinic, dedicated to relieving chronic pain.