Exercise Alleviates Back Pain

Published Online: Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Research has shown that chronic low back pain is often debilitating. In fact, ~80% of Americans?4 in 5?experience low back pain at some point in their lives. While there are a range of treatment options available for back pain, a growing number of physicians are recommending exercise programs to help individuals with chronic back pain.

"There is a growing movement towards fitness as an approach to chronic back pain," said Brian W. Nelson, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and medical director of Physician's Neck and Back Clinic in Roseville, Minn. "I've come to believe that this is the way to go for the vast majority of people with back pain [and] I think that 10 years from now, it will be the mainstay of treatment because it is so dramatically cost effective."

Therefore, the programs offered at Nelson's clinic aim at strengthening the back muscles. Nelson said that most individuals with chronic back pain have lost significant strength in their lumbar extensor muscles. Patients can reverse the condition, however, with aggressive strengthening exercises that focus on the lumbar extensor muscle group. Furthermore, Nelson recommended incorporating exercises specific to the torso rotation muscles and underlying abdominal muscles.

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