A Comprehensive Guide to Managing Chronic Back Pain

A Comprehensive Guide to Managing Chronic Back Pain

Imagine living with excruciating pain that never ends every day. As unbearable as it sounds, this is what living with chronic back pain looks like. Chronic back pain occurs when an individual experiences persistent or recurring pain in the lumbar region that exceeds the normal recovery period, typically over three weeks.

Several factors, including injury and other underlying medical conditions, may cause chronic back pain. Regardless of its causal factor, chronic back pain is a life-altering condition that affects an individual’s overall quality of life. While many individuals may see their chronic pain as a normal occurrence that will go away in no time, this condition may worsen until they are unable to eat, work, sleep, and perform their daily activities with ease. It is important to address chronic back pain early to avoid complications and promote physical and mental well-being.

This article will explore various methods through which our specialists at Summit Physical Therapy treat chronic back pain.

Causes of Chronic Back Pain

Back pain is usually classified into 2 categories – acute and chronic pain. While acute pain is a sudden or urgent pain that reduces or stops as healing occurs, chronic pain is a persistent and recurring pain that lasts beyond the recovery period. Several factors may lead to chronic back pain. While some causes may be fairly obvious, others may be due to underlying causes. Some of the most common causes of chronic back pain include:

Traumatic Causes

You may experience chronic back pain if you have suffered traumatic events, such as accidents, falls, and sports-related injuries in the past. Dislocation of spinal discs, fractures, and damage to the soft tissues of the back during accidents may lead to chronic back pain and other complications.

Mechanical/Structural Causes

Abnormalities and structural problems in the spine, discs, muscles, ligaments, or tendons can cause severe chronic back pain. The following are issues that affect the back due to mechanical/structural problems:

  • Sprain or Strain: Ligaments are the fibrous tissues connecting the bones and joints. A sprain occurs when these ligaments are torn or stretched abnormally. Tendons are the tissues that attach muscles to the bone. A strain occurs when these tendons are stretched beyond their normal range. You may sprain or strain the ligaments and tendons in your back from overuse, improper bending or twisting techniques, lifting too much weight, strenuous activities, and weak muscles.
  •  Degenerative Disc Disease: As its name implies, this condition causes chronic back pain due to degeneration. The spinal discs are rubbery cushions between the vertebrae that act as a shock absorber, helping you perform activities that involve your back comfortably. However, your spinal discs will degenerate over time due to ageing. When the spine loses its cushion, your bones may rub together, causing chronic back pain.
  • Repetitive Motion: This is another mechanical cause of chronic back pain. Activities that require you to perform the same movement several times can contribute to chronic back pain.
  • Bulging Disc: This condition is one of the most common causes of back pain. Your spinal disc may bulge if the nucleus of the rubbery cushion slips, ruptures, or bulges through the disc’s outer casing. A bulging disc may cause severe pain, numbness, and weakness in the back.
  • Spinal Stenosis: This structural cause of chronic back pain is another degenerative condition caused by age-related wear and tear. Spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of one or more spaces within the spinal canal.

Inflammatory Conditions

These conditions cause inflammation which plays a major role in developing persistent and recurring back pain. One of the primary inflammatory conditions that causes chronic back pain is arthritis. However, there are different types of arthritis. The following are some of the most common types of arthritis that cause chronic back pain:

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis is a type of arthritis that primarily causes inflammation in the joints and ligaments of the spine. It reduces flexibility in the spine and causes chronic back pain.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: With this type of arthritis, the immune system attacks its tissues and joints. It causes inflammation, severe pain, stiffness, and swelling in the spine joints, leading to chronic pain.

Lifestyle and Environmental Factors

Chronic back pain may also be due to an individual’s lifestyle choices and other external factors. Lifestyle choices such as pregnancy, lack of exercise or physical activity, poor diet and nutrition, poor sleep quality, poor posture and ergonomics, and substance abuse can all contribute to the development of chronic back pain. Environmental factors such as adverse weather conditions can also contribute to or worsen the condition of individuals with pre-existing chronic pain.

Medical Conditions

Sometimes, persistent and recurring back pain may be due to underlying degenerative medical conditions. These conditions may allow some body parts to deteriorate, causing severe back pain. Examples of medical conditions that cause chronic back pain include osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, cancer, tumours, etc.

Risk Factors for Chronic Back Pain

Several risk factors can trigger persistent and recurring back pain. Some of these factors include:

  • Age
  • Fitness level
  • Lifestyle habits
  • Occupational demands
  • Weight
  • Stress level
  • Genetics

Symptoms of Chronic Back Pain

The following are some of the signs and symptoms of chronic back pain:

  • Weakness, pain, and numbness from the spine to your legs.
  • Pain and difficulty while trying to bend or lift objects.
  • Stiffness of the back
  • Tingling sensation in the spine
  • Muscle tension and spasms.

Treatment Options for Managing Chronic Back Pain

There are two major treatment options for managing chronic back pain in Merrick, NY – non-pharmacological and pharmacological treatment.

Non-pharmacological Treatments

These are treatment options that do not rely on medications to relieve pain and improve physical function. Non-pharmacological treatment options employ other alternative and holistic methods to ease pain, restore function, and improve mobility. One of the most common non-pharmacological treatment methods that Merrick Physical Therapy employs is Physical therapy.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a healthcare profession that promotes, maintains, and restores physical health through various techniques. Physical therapists in Merrick use different methods to relieve your back pain and ensure your overall health and well-being. The following are the methods through which physical therapists manage chronic back pain:

  • Initial evaluation and assessment of the patient’s condition, medical history, physical exams, etc.
  • Physical therapists formulate an effective individualized treatment plan that addresses a patient’s specific needs and goals. This treatment plan may contain techniques such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, passive therapy modalities, and other activities that can reduce pain and restore function.
  • They provide education and self-management techniques that can help patients prevent further injury and promote well-being,


Chronic back pain is a debilitating condition that can affect the overall quality of an individual’s life. It may hinder you from carrying out your daily activities effectively, hence the need for back pain therapy in Merrick. If you are suffering from chronic back pain, you should consider undergoing physical therapy at Summit Physical Therapy.

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Elen Havens