The Pen that Broke the Camel’s Back

So, you just bent over to pick up a pen that dropped on the floor. You feel a quick sharp pain in your low back, and as you try to stand up, you experience even more pain and can hardly move. You find yourself half bent over in excruciating pain, and have no idea how you are going to get to the nearest chair. Crawling doesn’t sound great, and walking sounds worse. You wish you could call on your magic rug to wisp you off to bed…or to the hospital. Some of you not only have low back pain, but you have searing pain down your leg. And you ask yourself, how could something so light create such pain?! You are in good company. Low back pain is the most common cause of loss of activity among adults under 45 years of age. An estimated 80% of the population suffers from low back pain at some point in their lifetime. It is second only to headaches as the most common medical complaint.

The greatest risk factors for low back pain (LBP) are obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Excess weight stresses bones and muscles, and inactivity leads to weak muscles. Poor posture, poor body mechanics when doing repetitive jobs, poor ergonomics, previous back pain or injury (no matter how long ago), and poor nutrition also contribute to an onset of LBP.

The question now is how do you take care of your back when you find yourself in the scenario mentioned above? Whether you have LBP only or symptoms down your leg, the treatment is relatively the same.


  • Rest then Move – If you have severe pain and cannot get out of bed, rest and then try to get into your physical therapist ASAP for pain relieving modalities and education on how to start moving. Otherwise, get up! Maintain as much activity as you can without increasing your level of pain. There is a lot to learn about anatomy and physiology, so consult a physical therapist to fully recover and to learn how to prevent another episode of LBP.
  • Medication – Consult your physician on an appropriate medicine. Because of the acute inflammatory process that is going on in your back, he/she will likely prescribe an anti-inflammatory.
  • Modify – Rearrange your work station so you are not reaching too far or slouching. Rearrange your house to make it back friendly as well.
  • Posture – Correct your posture! Poor posture will cause a premature breakdown of tissues and will eventually cause low back pain, leg pain, or both.

Physical therapy sessions are individualized and provide education for a healthy back. Manual Physical Therapy may be used to help soft tissue and joints move correctly. Don’t despair! Your back will feel better in no time.

We would be happy to do a healthy back consultation for you at any of our clinics. For more information, contact a clinic closest to you. You only have one back!