March 10, 2009 - Exercises and running shoes instead of a scalpel? The most effective treatment for lower back pain is physical therapy with over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) when needed, according to a recent review of studies1.

Back pain

Lower back pain is mainly caused by degeneration

1 Lower back pain is mainly caused by degeneration of the lumbar discs. This pain is mainly caused by aging and wear and tear (repetitive activity), but can also occur following shock. The lumbar disc, the small cushion between the vertebrae, loses its elasticity and collapses. According to the authors of the study, 70% to 85% of adults will one day suffer from low back pain.

In the forty or so studies analyzed, different surgical procedures to treat chronic lower back pain were studied: intradiscal thermal electrotherapy, epidural injection, arthrodesis and disc arthroplasty. But in the majority of cases, the researchers point out, these treatments are not necessary since physical therapy is sufficient to relieve the pain.

The exercises performed must be used to strengthen the abdominal and lumbar muscles. The muscles thus provide better support for the spine and contribute to better posture, in addition to improving flexibility and blood flow.

These results come as no surprise to Richard Chevalier, a specialist in exercise physiology and author of numerous books on physical activity: "In many cases, physical exercise can help regenerate the intervertebral discs, which are then better irrigated and better nourished. »

However, the choice of exercises is important: they should not make the situation worse. "If you have a back problem, certain types of exercises are not recommended. In addition, it is important to maintain a balance between back and abdominal muscle mass to keep the pelvis in proper alignment with the spine. That's why it's recommended that you consult a physiotherapist or kinesiologist who can prescribe exercises that will actually do some good," he recommends.


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