At least 75 percent of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives. Not only is it uncomfortable, it can lead to depression, missed work and poor quality of life. Now a first-of-its-kind exercise program is relieving the pain for patients in their own homes.
For eight long years, Monica Bailey endured nagging back pain, impacting her to the point that she could not stand for more than an hour while teaching her third grade classes.
"Sharp intense pain in my lower back and it would hurt to walk," she said. "If I stood for more than an hour or walked around for more than an hour, my back would start to hurt really badly in my lower back."
She tried injections and physical therapy.
“That seemed to help, but you're only allowed so many sessions of physical therapy," she said.
Then she was selected to take part in a clinical trial using an at-home DVD exercise program to improve back pain.
"It makes sense that if we strengthen the muscles of the core and the muscles that support the spine, there's more stability to the spine," said Dr. Craig Morton at the Center for Orthopaedics.
At home exercises are nothing new for back pain patients, but instructions can be hard to follow.
"A lot of patients are given a sheet of paper with some stick figures saying, 'hey these are the exercises to go home and do.' There's no motivation, they don't really understand how to do it, there's no one cuing them, no one showing them what to do," said Dr. Morton.
Dr. Morton and Carl Comeaux put their heads and areas of expertise together to create RehabZone: three phases of 12 progressive workouts that are easy to follow at home.
"Each workout has three parts: the warm-up to get the blood flowing, to get the body temperature up, to get the mind right and then the core part or the workout is when they're working on core stability and strength and then the end of the workout is to focus on flexibility," said Comeaux.
The trial lasted four weeks, but Monica plans to keep at it.
"My back was stronger. I could stand for longer periods of time and I was more flexible," she said.
“What they're telling me is they're more flexible, a lot of them are starting to see a decrease in their pain, they have a lot more endurance, the activities of daily living that they were not able to do, they're now able to do," Dr. Morton said.
The exercise program just takes 20 minutes a day. The RehabZone DVD is available online at www.therehabzone.com.