Winter is commonly associated with lower back injuries. Whether it’s from shoveling snow, falls on ice, motor vehicle accidents or winter sports, it is common to see an increase in low back injuries as the weather worsens.
Some common lower back problems, according to the physical therapists at ProActive Sports Rehab, include sprains and strains, disc herniations and bulges, and fractured vertebrae.
“It is best to immediately apply a cold pack to the injury site for 15 minutes,” said Jeff Kirchmyer, PT, co-owner of ProActive Sports Rehab. “If the pain does not decrease with rest, cold packs and anti-inflammatory medication, you should contact your physician. X-rays may be needed depending on your symptoms.”
Due to the repeated bending and lifting associated with shoveling snow, lower back disc bulges or herniations are a common result. Disc herniations are when the disc between two vertebrae leak and put pressure onto the nerves that control your legs. It can often cause lower back or buttock pain, as well as numbness, tingling and pain down one or both legs.
To avoid such conditions, it is best to take breaks while shoveling, switch sides with the shovel, don’t lift heavy shovel loads, and stand up to stretch comfortably backwards periodically. Always try to lift with your legs and avoid twisting your back while shoveling. If pain does occur, use a cold pack and take anti-inflammatory medication as directed, and rest your back. Always follow up with your physician if pain persists.
Once a lower back condition occurs and you are seen by a physician, physical therapy can help relieve your symptoms. A licensed physical therapist will evaluate you and develop an individualized stretching and strengthening program to eliminate pain and prevent it from reoccurring.
For more information on injuries requiring the services of a trained physical therapist, please contact ProActive Sports Rehab for a consultation. ProActive has offices at 4535 Southwestern Blvd. (Suites 805 and 806) in Hamburg and 240 Red Tail (Suites 3 and 4) in Orchard Park, in the Sterling Medical Park. They can be reached at 648-8700 (Hamburg) or 674-9600 (Orchard Park).
You can also visit www.proactivesportsrehab.com or follow ProActive Sports Rehab on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProActiveSportsRehab?fref=ts for frequent updates.