By Lauren Shafer PT, DPT
Treating Low Back Pain is Not One Size Fits All
The second subgroup for treating low back pain is stabilization exercise. I find this to be an interesting category in the way it has evolved and what we are finding through research. It is commonly thought that “core training or stabilization” is the best way to treat low back pain, but this isn’t always the case. The literature over the past several years has prompted popularity in the prescription of stabilization exercise, however, results on its true effectiveness are inconclusive. While strong abdominal and back muscles definitely can help prevent and manage low back pain, it isn’t always the correct intervention for someone with low back pain.
The criteria for this subgroup include:
- Age < 40
- Greater general flexibility (straight leg raise >91°)
- Positive prone instability test (locating a relatively more mobile segment of the lumbar spine that also reproduces symptoms when direct pressure is applied. The test is positive if pain is no longer reproduced while the patient performs a movement eliciting lumbar muscle contraction)
- Aberrant movement when actively bending forwards and backwards, referred to as an “instability catch”, and the patient may perform “thigh climbing” when coming up.
Is this the right intervention for me?
A person who meets at least three of the four criteria is 80% likely to report at least a 50% decrease in symptoms when a core stabilization program targeting both deep and superficial trunk muscles is utilized. What I find even more interesting is that when at least three of these factors are negative, the person is 86% likely to FAIL to improve with a stabilization program. If you currently have back pain and just can’t seem to get better no matter how strong you get, this may shed some light as to why! There is also an additional set of factors to identify women with pain who are postpartum and likely to benefit from a stabilization program.
For more information about classifications of low back pain, you can read the article here.
Call or e-mail CoreBalance Therapy to schedule an evaluation with a physical therapist so that we can determine the best approach for you!