Somerville physical therapist Dr. Puja Desai presented treatment suggestions for low back pain and sciatica sufferers at a recent workshop
On Feb. 2, Dr. Puja Desai, PT presented a back pain and sciatica workshop to the Indo-American Club at the Canal Walk Active Adult Senior Living Community in Somerset, NJ. Dr. Desai, a Somerville physical therapist who also acts as director of that office, spoke to more than 40 attendees on common causes of back pain and sciatica, and explained how it can be treated effectively with physical therapy. She even brought up one audience member with back pain to the stage and performed treatment in front of the entire crowd, which gave the participant instant relief.
For those of you who were unable to make it to the workshop, we’d like to rehash some of the important facts and stats on back pain—especially low back pain—so you can do what you can to avoid it, and seek out proper treatment if you do develop it.
Back pain is incredibly common, as about 80% of Americans will experience it to some extent at least once in their lifetime. Though back pain can affect any region of the spine, the lower back is the area that tends to hurt in most people. The extreme prevalence of low back pain also leads to a high price tag, as the total costs associated with the condition are estimated to be greater that $100 billion per year in the U.S., most of which are due to lost wages and reduced productivity.
For those who have dealt with it, low back pain can be a major problem that can seriously interfere with your ability to perform normal daily tasks. Though the statistics suggest that many of us will experience low back pain at some point, that doesn’t mean nothing can be done to reduce our chances. While certain factors like genetics are out of our control, other common causes can be modified by your actions and habits. With that said, we present you with (in no particular order):
The top 10 preventable causes of back pain and how to address them
- 1) Being overweight: maintaining a healthy weight will mean less pressure on the spine and a lower chance of developing low back pain
- 2) Sedentary lifestyle: sitting for most of the day can also be very damaging to your spine; if you have a desk job, try to take frequent breaks to stand
- 3) Poor posture: excessive sitting and bad posture will exacerbate back pain even more; strive to practice good posture at all times, especially while sitting
- 4) Improper footwear: shoes that are too worn and/or don’t provide good arch support can also cause back problems; be smart about your footwear
- 5) Smoking: smokers have been found to be twice as likely as non-smokers to develop low back pain; on top of a plethora of other reasons, it’s best to quit
- 6) Heavy bags: purses, backpacks, even wallets can change the curve of the spine and cause low back pain; reduce the load of any bag you carry
- 7) Unsupportive bra: too much weight in the front can cause bad posture and low back pain; use one with the right support to keep weight close to the body
- 8) Bad/old mattress: a mattress without uniform support or that sinks too much is also dangerous; replace old ones with at least a medium support mattress
- 9) Having a weak core: a strong core—not just abs, but side, pelvic and buttock muscles—will strengthen and support the back; work on these
- 10) Stress/depression: emotional issues can always exacerbate physical ones; exercise and find other stress-reducing techniques that work for you
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities for you to make necessary changes in your life that will reduce your chances of developing low back pain. We encourage you to do all you can to keep your risk at a minimum, but unfortunately, there are no guarantees. If back pain does come about, physical therapy is the best possible option to manage your pain without the need for any extreme treatments like surgery. Somerville physical therapist Dr. Desai and all of our other physical therapists at Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation in Union, Edison, Somerville and Woodbridge, NJ are experts at diagnosing and treating back pain, and we will create a customized program that’s right for you. Call us at 908-393-9877 for more information or to schedule an appointment.