Degenerative Cycle of Back Pain

Once a person has injured his back, it is very easy for him to slip into a degenerative cycle. Often times the person does not feel much like getting up and about, and yet in most cases, moderate exercise/activity can be the most helpful tool in recuperation. Here’s how it often goes:

  • Generally, at the onset of physical pain, activity is reduced.
  • This reduced activity results in weaker muscles and less support for the spine.
  • With less spinal support, vertebrae can become misaligned, and discs and ligaments may deteriorate. With that, the threshold of pain drops even further than it was with the original trauma.
  • As spinal components deteriorate from inactivity, range of motion tends to decline.
  • As range of motion declines, more muscle strength is lost and the spine loses even more support.
  • Continuing loss of muscular support can cause even more spinal degeneration, and the cycle continues.

In order to prevent this degenerative cycle from taking over your back, you likely need to remain active. Medical attention is absolutely necessary, however following a thorough examination by your doctor and after being given his blessing, returning your back to full strength is crucial to recovery. Here are some guidelines to follow for both acute and chronic back pain.

Acute Back Pain (Recent Onset of Back Pain)

Ideally a person with acute back pain should be performing spine-specific exercises within a few days. Waiting longer can cause the injury to persist longer and has the potential to jumpstart the degenerative cycle.

Chronic Back Pain (Sustained, Ongoing Back Pain)

Small back muscles that maintain the lower back’s curvature generally go unused in cases of chronic back pain. This can lead to muscle atrophy, shrinking and weakening muscles and a loss of coordination. Gentle, spine-specific exercises can quickly restore strength to back muscles.

As always, consult with your doctor as to the specific types of exercises that you would benefit from most.

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