Working towards a Long-Term Solution
Back pain has a horrible habit of returning time and time again. One of the most common reasons for this is weakness of the deep supporting muscles of the spine. Unfortunately, every time you have an episode of back pain these muscles get weaker, and they do not strengthen again on their own, leaving us more vulnerable to further episodes. A vicious circle!
Why the need for Rehabilitation
These deep supporting muscles are often referred to as "core" muscles. They are not the big strong external muscles that move us from A to B, but deep muscles that are contracting all the time to hold us up. For example, most of the time our head sits on our shoulders all day, and generally we don't need to lie down or rest our neck. The deep core muscles of the neck are doing their job. By comparison, see how long you can hold your arms out in front of you. Probably not very long! These "action" muscles are strong, but are not designed for prolonged activity. This principle is the same in the low back. If you get back ache when you have to stand still for any length of time, the chances are that your core muscles are weak, and your "action" muscles quickly fatigue resulting in back pain. Sadly, 21st century life (particularly sitting) doesn't naturally get us working these core muscles, so we need help.
What does it Involve
Rehabilitation is all about strengthening the core, improving balance, and reducing the likelihood of recurrent symptoms. The good news is that you do not need any expensive equipment or gym membership. All our bodies are different, and we all have different problems, different weaknesses, and different lifestyles. As a result, rehabilitation has to be tailored to the individual, and our chiropractic team are very good at this.
Some patients will receive a set of simple exercises to do at home, whereas others will need more careful supervision. Usually, a progression through different exercises and techniques is required over a period of weeks, or sometimes months. Unlike stretching exercises, where you often feel the benefit immediately, strengthening takes longer to achieve results. However, it is worth it, because the evidence is good that rehabilitation is an effective tool in managing chronic back pain.