Spine

The Program  |  Therapy Options  |  Eligibility

The Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network provides advanced treatment for low back pain and teaches you what to expect in your recovery.

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The Low Back Pain Program

Inflammation (swelling) of joints, muscles or discs in the back often cause low back pain. Physical activities, especially repetitive lifting, bending and twisting can make low back pain worse. Poor posture also can worsen low back pain. Rarely do serious problems, such as infection or other medical conditions, cause low back pain.

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Therapy Options

Physical Therapy
If your back pain does not resolve within 5-7 days, your physician may refer you to physical therapy and the Hartford Hospital Healthy Back Program. Here you will focus on restoring your mobility, improving your strength and decreasing your pain. We will work towards restoring your prior level of function with all your normal daily activities.

Surgery
Conservative (nonsurgical treatments) steroid procedures and exercise often are effective in relieving and preventing pain from returning. Surgery is usually considered only after months of conservative treatment has failed to ease your pain. Surgery is rarely needed for back pain or sciatica. Only 5 to 10 percent of patients with sciatica need surgery.

Exercise
To help in your recovery and to prevent further back problems, keep yourself in good physical condition and your back, abdominal muscles and legs strong. Walk daily as soon as you can. Gradually add other activities, such as swimming and biking, which can help improve lower back strength. Do not do any exercises that make your pain worse.

Ways to treat lower back pain include:

Bed Rest
Prolonged bed rest is not necessary for most back problems. In fact, staying in bed for more than two days may increase the pain and stiffness. Moderate activity that does not significantly worsen the pain is more helpful.

Ice and Heat
Ice or cold packs can reduce the pain and swelling of a muscle strain or spasm (tightening of the muscle). Use ice or cold packs for 20 minutes three or four times a day during the first few days. To further reduce pain and stiffness, take a hot both or place a heating pad on your lower back. Continue to use ice if it helps reduce the pain.

Medication
Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or aspirin, can help ease the pain and swelling in the lower back. If these medicines upset your stomach, use acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead. Your provider also may prescribe muscle relaxants during the first few days to ease muscle spasms. Muscle relaxants, however, often cause drowsiness.

Posture
Good posture keeps the body's weight aligned (straight) and reduces stress on the back muscles. To help reduce stress on your low back from sitting, use a chair with enough lower back support or place a pillow behind your back. Change positions frequently.

Sleeping
When sleeping, lie on your back with a pillow under your knees. Lying on your side with a pillow between your lower legs is also helpful.

Weight
Being overweight increases stress on the lower back. Weight loss is important to prevent future problems.

Stress Management
Family, work or financial pressure can affect back pain. Learning to effectively manage everyday stress can help your recovery. Talk with your provider about any concerns.

Returning to usual activities
Returning to work or usual daily activity in a few days or less is important to your recovery. Modifying your responsibilities or limiting your hours may be necessary. While you can expect some discomfort, getting back to regular activities helps prevent your back from becoming weak and stiff. Avoid lifting heavy objects and repetitive bending and twisting.

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Eligibility 

Types of Low Back Pain we treat are:

Acute low back pain
Low back pain that lasts for six weeks or less and does not extend below the knees is called acute low back pain, lumbar muscle strain or backache. Although quite painful, it usually improves after a few days of simple care.

Acute sciatica
Acute sciatica is low back pain that lasts for six weeks or less and extends below the knees. It also is called radiculopathy or radiating leg pain. Feeling better usually takes longer than with acute low back pain. Nerve irritation in the lower back often causes sciatica pain.

Chronic low back pain and sciatica
Back pain and sciatica that lasts longer than six weeks with no significant improvement is considered chronic. Specialized treatment may be needed. Our provider may refer you to an expert in medical problems that can cause chronic back pain. Usually, these are providers in rehabilitation or occupational medicine, neurology, or neurosur- gery, orthopedics, rheumatology and interventional pain treatment.

In some situations, your provider may want to do tests to rule out any uncommon causes for your back pain. Keep your provider up-to-date on how you are doing. Schedule a follow-up visit one to three weeks after your initial exam, if recommended. Immediately report any of the following symptoms or conditions:

  • Constant night pain
  • Fever
  • Leg weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Urinary Difficulties

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Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network