Allery Treatment News

Physical Therapy Can Help Relieve Boomers' Back Pain

May 01, 2017

Because of increasingly demanding jobs, hectic daily schedules, participating in recreational activities, and caring for children, grandchildren, and elderly parents, back pain is becoming a common thread among baby boomers. However, this generation is less resigned to simply accept the changes brought about by aging, says the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964 and who now make up one fourth of the U.S. population, are leading more active lifestyles than previous generations. "Baby boomers are as active as they were when they were younger, but now they're living with chronic low back pain or osteoarthritis," says Jennifer Gamboa, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC, owner of Body Dynamics, a physical therapy private practice in Arlington, VA. "These conditions as well as others can benefit greatly from physical therapy intervention."

Back pain among baby boomers will be the subject of a toll-free national hotline on Thursday, February 15, from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time, sponsored by the American Physical Therapy Association's Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy Sections. Physical therapists will be on hand to answer questions about injury prevention, exercise, and ways to prevent back pain. The hotline is offered as a public service to help people learn how to minimize back pain and is not a substitute for a visit to a physical therapist or other health care professional.

"Frequently, patients may unknowingly exacerbate their pain by exercising improperly or by having poor posture," Gamboa said. Physical therapists can help to identify and correct those behaviors. Physical therapists work on increasing muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance, restoring and improving range of motion in joints, and decreasing muscle and joint pain.

Physical therapy interventions may include therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, and functional training, as well as exercises for strength, flexibility, and range of motion, and devices designed to rest or support the joint, such as orthotics or splints. "The goal of a physical therapist is to get you back to doing what you enjoy on a daily basis with as little discomfort as possible."

For those patients who either are just starting an exercise regime, or for injured weekend warriors just getting back in the game, Gamboa recommends starting off slowly and not doing too much too fast. She notes that physical therapists devise step-wise plans in order for patients to gain strength and mobility.

Gamboa also suggests investing in an ergonomically correct chair for work, taking frequent breaks from computers, and participating in stress-relieving activities, such as yoga or meditation, to offset back pain.

Physical therapists (PTs) are health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the elderly, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan of care using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability.

The American Physical Therapy Association (apta) is a national organization representing nearly 70,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students nationwide. Its goal is to foster advancements in physical therapist education, practice, and research. Consumers can access "Find a PT" to find a physical therapist in their area, as well as physical therapy news and information at apta/consumer.

American Physical Therapy Association