By Elizabeth Silverstein [LINK: https://hewandweld.com/]
I’d never met a physical therapist before I ended up at Pinnacle Physical Therapy with Dr. Murphy. I’d met plenty of chiropractors and my fair share of massage therapists. When I started developing back pain about three years ago, I had it stuck in my head that I needed a massage appointment and then a chiropractic adjustment.
Physical therapy never entered my mind, not even a little bit.
Not until dinner with Chelsea, Dr. Murphy’s wife. We’d connected over our love of animals and dog training, especially because she’d worked in Florida as a dolphin trainer, which had been my dream job when I was young. I’d put any idea of working with animals away, out of sight, because I had no natural ability with any of the horses or dogs I’d come across as a child.
I worked in administration and nonprofit work instead. I became a writer, pursuing an English Literature degree. I fell in love with stories. In 2016, after a move to New Jersey, I entered the dog industry professionally. And my back pain started.
With a move to the Little Rock area in 2018, my back pain continued. And I kept thinking about those appointments I needed to make.
Over dinner with Chelsea, I mentioned the pain when she asked how I was doing, and she asked if I’d ever considered seeing a physical therapist instead.
Turns out, it’s not always the bed. Or something more serious. Sometimes easing back pain means simply trying out some new exercises or even just waiting a little bit. I talked with Dr. Murphy on what steps I could take towards eliminating my back pain.
- Get up and move.
Dr. Murphy explained, “It was previously recommended that folks with back pain lay in bed and not move. Now, we suggest that they stay active. The normal activity they maintained before they developed back pain can be continued and often helps. Just because there’s some hurt doesn’t mean that there’s harm, and discomfort doesn’t mean there’s structural damage.”
- Utilize microbreaks. “Many folks have desk jobs,” Dr. Murphy continued, “so I recommend they take microbreaks every hour. They should stay no more than an hour in one position. Get up and move. Don’t stay in a static position.”
- Go on a walk. “This depends on the level of activity previously,” Dr. Murphy said. “If they were active before the injury or pain, they can walk longer.”
- Try to find a position or movement that reduces discomfort and one that makes it worse. “Physical therapists are taught to be specific to the individual,” Dr. Murphy explained. “This is where the skill of a good physical therapist comes in. Knowing what helps and what doesn’t helps us get the patient better faster.”
Of course, there are caveats to these recommendations. Each individual is a unique case. Some people do better standing, some have a better time sitting, and others find their pain reduced while walking. Your physical therapist will create a customized plan for you.
- Find a reputable source for information.
“Getting educated from a qualified source is important,” Dr. Murphy said. “It’s important to know that for the vast majority of people, their pain is likely to resolve in a short amount of time from staying active.”
Recommended websites include:
WebMD [ https://www.webmd.com/]
Mayo Clinic [ https://www.mayoclinic.org/]
Cleveland Clinic [https://my.clevelandclinic.org/]
- Wait a few weeks.
Typically, lower back pain can resolve in four to six weeks. “It becomes a psychological movement,” Dr. Murphy added. “It’s important to stay calm and stay active.”
Some people aren’t ready to call a local expert right away, while others are ready to get intense medical intervention immediately. “Don’t get the X-Ray or MRI within that four to six weeks,” Dr. Murphy said. “The cost and course of care is astronomically hirer when starting there. Typically, surgery isn’t needed, and it’s possible to start conservatively with care. I try for due diligence with education. Cancer only affects one percent of people, and it’s very likely that your back pain is not the result of something sinister.”
This article should not take the place of medical advice from a local expert. Each individual case should be evaluated carefully. This is should be taken as a starting point only. Dr. Murphy provides free initial consultations. Call or email to schedule yours and find a solution for your lower back pain.
We’ve created this in partnership with our friends, Anna Bolte, of Bolte Fitness, and The Pharmacy at Wellington. Anna wrote Three Simple Tips for Moms to Prioritize Health [LINK: https://www.boltefitness.com/post/3-simple-tips-for-moms-to-help-you-prioritize-your-health], and you can find more about Bolte Fitness on Instagram [LINK: https://www.instagram.com/annaboltefitness/], and Facebook [LINK: https://www.facebook.com/boltefitness/]. Learn more about the Pharmacy at Wellington at their website [LINK: thepharmacyatwellington.com], and Facebook [LINK: facebook.com/thepharmacyatwellington].