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What you can do about low back pain

OPINION

If you have experienced low back pain, you are not alone. Approximately one quarter of Americans report experiencing low back pain within the last three months at any given time, according to an article in "Spine". Low back pain often occurs due to overuse, strain or injury. This includes too much bending, twisting, lifting and even too much sitting.

How can you prevent low back pain?

—Keep your back, stomach, and leg muscles strong and flexible;

—Keep your body in alignment, so it can be more efficient when you move;

—Don’t slouch. Keep good posture;

—Use good body positioning at work, home or during leisure activities;

—When lifting, keep the load close to your body;

—Ask for help or use an assistive device to lift heavy objects;

—Maintain a regular physical fitness regimen. Staying active can help to prevent injuries.

What to do when you have low back pain

In most cases, low back pain is mild and will disappear on its own. However, for some people, back pain can return or persist, leading to a decrease in quality of life or even disability.

Stay active and do as much of your normal routine as possible when you have low back pain. Bed rest for longer than a day can slow down your recovery. If your back pain lasts more than a few days or gets worse, then you should schedule an appointment to see your physical therapist.

See a health care professional immediately if you experience symptoms of loss of bowel or bladder control, numbness in the groin or inner thigh and pain that does not change with rest.

Treatment for low back pain

Not all low back pain is the same, and your treatment should be tailored to suit your specific condition. If you seek treatment from a physical therapist, it could include the following:

—Individualized assessment to understand your specific condition and a thorough posture examination. Attention will be given to how you use your body at work, home, during sports and at leisure.

—Individualized treatment plan. This may consist of treatment to decrease pain and improve mobility, manual therapy techniques, specific strengthening and/or flexibility exercises, education about care of your back and training for proper lift technique, bending, sitting, sleeping and everyday movements.

Dr. Shelly Kraetz is a physical therapist in Skaneateles. Kraetzpt.com.

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