2005-08-05 / Columnists

Eye On Physical Therapy

By Dr. Tim Rohrs, DPT

Each month as I sit to write this column, I contemplate the topic. Should it be what I would call a “physical therapy” column; a column about injuries and rehab and tissue healing. Perhaps, it would be an anecdotal story of a recent success. Maybe a motivational column?

Truth be told, I often find myself coming back to thinking about low back pain.

Why the fascination with back pain? Studies suggest that 80% of the entire population will have low back pain at some point in their lives. There are many different health care practitioners and approaches to treating back pain. Likewise, there are many misconceptions about back pain. The questions I am asked each day, reflect those misconceptions. The true problem is that there is no one correct answer. Every answer has a grain of truth to it. Every health care provider is right and wrong. When I am asked these questions it may sound like I am trying to be evasive. Intentionally, I am trying to be evasive. I know for every explanation of the interaction of bone, muscles, nerves, ligaments and tendons that I give, I could find 10 experts who agree and 10 to disagree.

Sounds hopeless? Not really. As I explain to my patients, the cause of the pain, the painful structure etc. really does not matter. What matters most is that you get relief from the pain. There is an “ideal” in terms of range of motion, muscle flexibility and strength, balance, and movement sequence for your low back. My job is to get your lumbar spine to resemble that ideal as closely as possible. When I have accomplished that, or come as close as possible, hopefully your pain is gone. It didn’t really matter if the painful structure was a bulging disc or strained facet joint, an irritated nerve root or muscle spasm.

Have a happy and healthy summer!

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