Q: I've always had problems with low back pain but it seems to go away quickly when I get back on my program of exercises. Lately even with my exercises, it's taking longer to recover. What can I do to change this?
A: Recurring low back pain (LBP) is a problem for many people. In the first year after an acute episode of LBP, 60 to 80 per cent of adults are likely to have a second (or third) bout of LBP.
Experts aren't sure why this happens. Physiotherapists are busy studying ways to prevent recurrent LBP. One of their key findings has been the role of motor control in recovery of normal motion and prevention of future problems.
For you this means that you may need a little different rehab program to recover normal muscle control. After injury, the trunk muscles aren't always to get back to a normal flow and pattern of movement. Some muscles may be too late in contracting. Others contract but don't relax when they should.
Motor control problems of this type put an increased load on the spine. Instability, pain, and loss of function are common problems. Restoring core control of the trunk and abdominal muscles may be a key to recovery for many people.
Jaana Suni, PT, PhD, et al. Control of the Lumbar Neutral Zone Decreases Low Back Pain and Improves Self-Evaluated Work Ability. In Spine. August 15, 2006. Vol. 31. No. 18. Pp. E611-E620.