Lumbar Disorders

The lumbar spine (low back) is made up of 5 vertebra (bones), discs in between each vertebra, nerves exiting the spinal cord and many muscles and ligaments that provide movement and stabilization. The last lumbar vertebra also connects to the sacrum and coccyx (tailbone). An acute injury, such as car accident, a fall, or lifting heavy objects can cause pain and decreased range of motion. Acute injuries can affect all structures in the spine from the vertebrae and corresponding joints of each, spinal muscles (strains) and ligaments (sprains), spinal nerves and discs (bulging or herniated). Often disc oriented back problems require a special type of exercise approached called McKenzie technique that our therapists can instruct you in if necessary. Chronic spinal disorders can also affect the same structures of the spine, but typically build up over time. Arthritic or degenerative changes to the spine that develop over time can predispose people to spinal disorders. These changes do not necessarily have to be painful, rather extraneous variables including our level of fitness, body morphology (type or size), lifestyle and diet, stress, posture, or other biomechanical faults can all lead to stress on these arthritic spinal areas eventually causing pain. At CPTC, we can treat all arthritic changes to the spine, and we look to identify the stressors that inflame these arthritic changes.

Sacro-iliac (SI) disorders also fall into the lumbar area. The SI joint is where the sacrum and the Iliac portion of the pelvis join. This joint is very close to the lower lumbar vertebra and is often seen as the ‘dimple’ in a person’s lower back. The pelvis also has a joint in the front of the body called the pubic symphysis. These joints can become inflamed or stressed just like any other joint in the body.

Coccyx (tailbone) pain can result from a fall landing on your buttock or from chronic poor posture. There are internal and external treatments that can be used to assist in correcting alignment, as well as appropriate strengthening and stretching. Correct sitting and standing posture can greatly assist with pain management for patients with coccyx pain.

Another common symptom we treat is 'sciatica' (irritation of the sciatic nerve/nerve roots that comprise the sciatic nerve) which refers to the pain sensation and or numbness/tingling that can radiate from the back and into one or both lower extremities and possibly into the feet/toes. It is important to realize that sciatica is NOT a diagnosis, but rather a symptom of something that is CAUSING it. Disorders of the lumbar spine, sacro-iliac joints and pelvic/hip muscles can all create these symptoms and it is our job to identify your source of sciatic pain.

We are also trained to treat all post-surgical spinal conditions following appropriate tissue healing parameters and the referring physician’s rehabilitation guidelines or protocol.

Depending on your individual needs, your treatment plan may include a wide variety of interventions, such as: joint mobilizations of the spine, soft tissue mobilizations to surrounding muscles, modalities (electrical stimulation, ultrasound or traction if indicated), exercises for strengthening and/or stretching, and posture education.

Comprehensive Physical Therapy Center · 100 Timberhill Place, Suite #115 · Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Phone: (919) 967-5959 · Fax: (919) 968-1478 · Email:
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