If pain and/or injury has brought you in to Elite Spine & Sport as a patient, then you already know that we are not likely to tell you to stop your activities and rest. In fact, most of our treatment plans involve exercises, including the same ones that might be causing your pain. Crazy, right? There are a couple reasons for that. First, you won’t stop anyway…let’s be honest. Second, in most cases, your problem is not because movement or exercise is bad, but rather the quality of movement you are using is faulty. Our goal is to find relatively pain-free ranges of motion and/or exercises that modulate or reduce your pain that you can utilize in order to stop further damage and properly rehabilitate your injury. Let’s elaborate a little bit.
Before we move further, there are scenarios we will recommend ceasing activity. Some examples include injuries involving significant neurologic symptoms such as a disc herniation compressing nerves leading to loss of various functions, certain bone fractures, some issues related to pregnant patients and anything that could pose a significant risk to the health and wellbeing of the patient. Most patient visits do not fall into these categories and we would rule these out during our initial history and examination. Ok, let’s continue.
Let’s make believe for a moment. A new patient, Mr. Bill shows up to our office with a complaint of low back pain. Mr. Bill loves to golf on the weekends and occasionally during the week. Over the past couple weeks, he’s noticed that following rounds of golf he has had some lingering back pain that typically resolves a few hours later after taking a couple ibuprofen. However, more recently, the back pain is not going away. This is an abbreviated history, but let’s assume we’ve ruled out anything scary. Now, Mr. Bill is from northeast Wisconsin and only has about 4-5 good months to golf, so we know he doesn’t want to miss any time from the course.
During our examination with Mr. Bill, we find that we can reproduce his low back pain during the backswing of his golf swing. His low back is excessively extending (bending backwards) because he lacks thoracic spine extension, proper rotation through the hips and his shoulder mobility is limited (Mr. Bill is an accountant and spends his work days at a computer…sitting). Mr. Bill compensating for poor thoracic spine, hip and shoulder mobility by stealing from the low back. His low back is not the problem. His mid-back, hips and shoulders (and probably his core function) are more likely to blame. So, we should probably tell Mr. Bill to take it easy a couple weeks and just lay low. Heck no! He’s already sitting at a desk all day to begin with. Mr. Bill needs to move, and he needs to do it right!
Our treatment approach with Mr. Bill might look something like this:
- Address mobility limitations in the hips and shoulders with various stretches and mobilizations.
- Use various functional exercises to improve core activation which in turn will help stabilize the low back and decrease mechanical stress.
- Restore extension mobility to the mid-back via chiropractic manipulations (adjustments).
- Re-assure Mr. Bill that he is likely to stay on the golf course if he continues to focus on movement quality and understand that golf, although not strenuous still demands lots of mobility and movement coordination.
Looking at our make-believe patient scenario with Mr. Bill, we can see that there is a very good possibility of keeping him active on the golf course while also rehabilitating and treating his low back pain complaint. With many of our patients presenting with pain complaints and injuries, this will be the case. If you are hurting, it is a signal that something is not right. Our goal is to see if we can get the alarm to shut off and keep you up and running, free to take on whatever demands life throws at you on a day-to-day basis. Pain does not have keep you from doing what you love to do, but it certainly should be addressed. We’d love to help keep you performing well in life, work and sport.
If pain or injuries have been keeping you from doing what you love, call or schedule a visit with us today!