What do I need to know about back pain?

Individuals experiencing low back pain typically fall into three broad categories at Rehab 2 Perform:

  • Acute Low Back Pain: 

Acute low back pain episodes include pain that is generally less than 6 weeks in duration. It can be associated with a specific injury although that is not always necessary and can often occur without a clear cause. Individuals with low back pain can often determine a specific time or activity with which their episode of pain began (i.e. bending over or during activity like weight lifting a specific moment during activity).

  • Chronic Low Back Pain:

Chronic low back pain includes episodes of pain that have generally lasted greater than 3 months. Chronic low back pain is often referred to as persistent back pain. Individuals that have had episodic back pain over months to years typically fall into this category. The intensity and quality of symptoms varies greatly in this category ranging from individuals significantly limited with daily activity, to those that are able to generally tolerate activity but maybe aren’t performing at their best as a result of their pain.

  • Post-Surgical Low Back Pain:

Occasionally patients require surgical management to address their back pain. In these cases, our staff will work together with your surgical team to ensure a safe return to your prior activities. This course of care often presents similarly to an episode of acute low back pain with the addition of consideration for healing surgical incisions and post-operative guidelines.

What activities should I avoid?

At Rehab 2 Perform, we generally recommend that you continue with your normal daily routine as best you can tolerate throughout the course of your back pain. In the early stages of you may not be able to fully tolerate your prior physical activities (gym program, running, etc.), however there are other options for staying active.

  • Studies have shown that a walking program is a safe and effective method to reduce chronic low back pain. Read more about this HERE.

The Facts with Pain

Studies show that:

  • As many as 80% of adults will experience an episode of low back pain at some point during their life.
  • Low back pain is the leading cause of activity related impairment worldwide each year.
  • Cases of chronic low back pain are increasing

While your lower back pain is certainly individual to you, it is important that you know many other individuals are also experiencing it. In fact, it is the most common diagnosis we see at Rehab 2 Perform each year.

How much pain is too much?

Pain can be a good indicator of tolerance for an activity, specifically in cases of acute injury. However, too much respect for pain intensity and response can be an inhibitor of progress and lead to more challenges down the road. At Rehab 2 Perform we like to utilize a “Traffic Light” system to describe painful symptoms and be a guide for tolerance of an activity.

  • Green Light - Green means GO! This can be used to describe activities that do not provoke symptoms. Continue your activity as tolerated.
  • Yellow Light - Proceed with caution. Yellow light symptoms are those that do cause some discomfort that is manageable in nature. We encourage you to continue activities that cause yellow light symptoms. This can assist in increasing your pain threshold, allowing you to better tolerate and complete more of a given activity in future sessions.
  • Red Light - These are symptoms that are sharp or shooting in nature, causing a change facial expression, limp, or otherwise significantly altering the way you do a task. We encourage you to hold off on these activities and have a discussion with our staff to determine comparable tasks you may better tolerate in the meantime.

The Science Behind Pain 

Check out more facts, information and articles regarding Pain HERE

What else can I do to help this process?

Here are some general recommendations from our staff:

  • Make physical activity a part of your daily routine. As mentioned above, something as simple as a walking program can assist in your rehabilitation.
  • Stay positive! Mood can have a big effect on your pain and your progress toward your goals.
  • Are you eating properly? Here are some basic guidelines and tips with Nutrition, VIEW NOW.
    • Article/Podcast HERE - on how Food Sensitivies can contribute to Pain
  • Get your ZZZs! Sleep can have a significant impact on your daily routine. Check out more benefits of SLEEP HERE.
  • Be intentional in everything you do! Set time aside to work on your home program and create positive habits! Check out more on MINDSET HERE.

Are you Ready to Perform?

As you continue to progress through your rehabilitation program, you may begin to wonder when you can re-integrate your prior activities (Running, CrossFit, Weight Lifting, etc.). While time since injury can be an indicator of when you may begin certain activities, it does not always tell the whole story. At Rehab 2 Perform we utilize criteria-based rehabilitation. This means we like
to use benchmark performance measures (or key performance indicators) that test your movement competency and capacity to determine activity progressions

Some of these measures may include:

  • Core Strength and Endurance
  • Leg strength
  • Foundational Patterns of Movement (Squatting, Hip-hinging, Pushing,
    Pulling, Carrying etc.)
  • Return to Sport Testing (e.g. Y-balance, hop testing) 

Once you meet these goals, it is important that you and your therapist
establish an appropriate activity progression that gradually challenges you
and ensures a safe return to prior level activities.