This winter, I've been battling major lower back issues. A torn hip labrum, two herniated discs and – most painful – a pinched nerve. Ouch!
I had to endure three procedures in the hospital to deal with it all. But the good news is, now I'm much better, although the process isn't over.
I'm now doing physical therapy to get back to my old self (ideally, playing pickup basketball a few times a week). But when it comes to back pain, I've found out that I'm not alone.
More than a third of Americans say back pain affects their daily life. Lower back pain is the number one cause of disability worldwide, and the number two reason why people see a doctor - behind the flu.
Sarah Benditt, of Renew Physical Therapy, is working with me as I rehabilitate my back. She holds a doctorate from UW and says the most common myth about bad backs is what to do once you're hurt.
“(People think) that movement is bad or dangerous if you have back pain,” Benditt said. “It's understandable – you're in pain, so you don't move. And of course, it's important to move in a way that's safe and not going to cause additional injury. But continuing to move even if you have back pain is very important.”
Ten minutes per day can help a lot. You just have to find a program and stick to it and know what you're doing, because a bad back, isn't always just about your back.
“Having good hip strength and hip mobility can help take a lot of stress off of your back,” says Benditt.
Americans spend about $50 billion each year on back pain, and if you don't want to join that club… be proactive.
“Not that I'm biased,” joked Benditt, before turning serious, “But if you have back pain, these issues are easier to address if you come in, and get a stretching and strengthening program earlier, rather than waiting until you've had the issue for a long time.”