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Experience Relief from Lower Stiff Back, Low Back Pain, and Tightness

Experience Relief from Lower Stiff Back, Low Back Pain, and Tightness

Dr. Michael Derry, DPT, PT, OCS Jacksonville, Florida
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A stiff lower back, back pain, or tightness in your lower back can cause you to really miss out on living the best life you can! My clients often report annoying lower back stiffness especially in the morning. That is why we want to educate you on the causes of lower back pain, the muscles that might be causing you issues and stiffness, and some advice on figuring out what is really going on back there! In my opinion, the path of recovery and improving stiffness always starts with knowing more before we should do more! 

Understanding Causes of Low Back Pain and Stiff Back

Our health is our wealth, and at Revision Health Services, we understand how lower back pain and stiffness can disrupt that wealth. The causes of low back pain and stiffness can be a broad mix, including injury to your spine's discs or degenerative disc disease. We know that through research and countless of patients, these things are normal but still have an impact on our lives.

Often, the pain in your lower back or the stiffness of your lower back stems from the joints of the spine. Joints change over time and so do how they feel. Ignoring the signs of back pain or a stiff lower back can lead to chronic stiffness or tightness, which we can prevent or manage over time.

So, if you're struggling with back pain, or your lower back often feels stiff, you must familiarize yourself with the potential causes.

Potential causes usually stem from a gradual decrease in movement and joint related changes over time. This is often called arthritis or Arthur as my patients like to say. Arthritis is very normal and occurs in every human being.

Often patients will have an incident where they strain or “throw out” their back that is followed by a fear of movement. This is called kinesiophobia. This is a major focus of my typical treatment for back stiffness.Other causes may be from a herniated disc or other structural changes that occur at or near vertebrae. Regardless of the potential causes, we find that movement, when done correctly can help reduce low back pain and even elimiate it.

Dealing with Degenerative Discs: A Predominant Cause of Low Back Pain and Stiff Back

Are you dealing with degenerative disc disease, a predominant cause of lower back pain and stiff lower back? First, find out why degenerative disc disease is not a disease! It's a common spinal condition which affects your vertebrae and discs, causing back stiffness and discomfort. Lower back pain and stiffness often stem from a decrease in space between the vertebrae. Common symptoms can include consistent lower back pain, particularly after certain activities.

The change of the discs can impact your spine health, vertebrae and joints. When I treat clients we want to focus on building resiliency of these structures. The discs and nerves within your back can lead to severe lower back stiffness. However, relief is in sight. Your spine and lower back are stronger than you think. My comprehensive rehab approach is focused on building your reseiliency, expanding your knowledge, and alllowing you to learn ways you can help yourself feel better today and in the future.

I has been so rewarding to see my clients regain mobility and reduce lower back stiffness, enhancing their body's overall strength and capabilities. Check out this mobility program I created to help with degenerative disc disease.

One of my least favorite diagnoses to see in the clinic is degenerative disc disease. Not because it is difficult to treat, but because the name elicits more fear than need be in most cases. Degenerative disease really sticks in a patient’s mind and leaves them feeling helpless that their condition will never get better. I spend a decent amount of time with my patients dispelling the scary language that comes with “degenerative” and “disease.” I am tired of the healthcare system fear mongering people! 

The process of thinning of the intervertebral discs happens to everyone. Similar to the joint space in the knee becoming more narrow over time, that process occurs at the level of the spine. Pain and degeneration is causatory. Meaning, you can lots of degeneration without pain! I have seen this so many times! Think about older adults who have really bad posture. If you ask them, I bet you they don't have a lot of pain! 

The worst thing you can do as this happens is to stop moving. When you avoid exercise or movement as you age, it impacts on your overall health and further more on the joints themselves. It may seem counterintuitive that when your joints hurt you should move them, but research shows that it may be the best medicine.

Motion is lotion, baby! 
Lower stiff back, low back pain
Lower Back Pain and Tightness

The Role of Muscles in Low Back Pain and Back Stiffness

Ever wondered about the prime role that your muscles play in maintaining a healthy back? The constant strain that we put on our muscles, especially in the lower back can often lead to lower back pain. Your muscles work overtime to bear the weight of your body which can lead to stiffness in the lower back. I can't emphasize this enough, this is normal!

Stiffness is normal and so is lower back pain! That said, pain can be treated and even eliminated.

Everyone, event those with a habit of lifting heavy weights to those usually behind the desk, can experience occasional back stiffness. The pressure that builds up along the spine's disc intensifies this discomfort. Day-to-day activities can pose a strain on the back and knees, impacting your joints and causing a stiff lower back.

What we see is that back stiffness can be caused by many things! 

The importance of regular back exercise can't be stressed enough to strengthen your muscles and ease the pressure. So, understanding and respecting the role played by muscles in back pain is crucial for a healthier body and back.

One of the most amazing experiences I had while earning my doctoral degree in physical therapy was the cadaver lab. In the lab we got to dissect a human body from head to toe. This practice is not for the faint of heart, but you learn to deal with the process (and the smell) to gain a better understanding of human anatomy. One thing in particular that stuck out to me was the sheer amount of muscle that surrounds the back. There are layers upon layers of muscle that are designed to help your body move as well as protect the vital organs and spine. It takes hours to get from the skin to the vertebral column.

So why do I bring this up? It shows just how stable the spine really is. Despite the multiple layers of muscle and tissue that make up the lumbar area, one strain of a muscle in this region can cause a whole lot of pain. It can make it so that getting off bed or walking is very difficult. When we allow these muscles to become too stiff the problems can spread throughout the body. The tight muscle can cause the joints to not be as mobile as they should be, causing further restrictions. A tight back will make you want to avoid movement, leading to deeper issues. Knowing that your spine can withstand a tremendous amount of load and still be fine is the key to trusting the process of implementing movement back to your life. I see nearly everyone improve but your path will most likely be different compared to your neighbors or family members.

Are Discs to Blame? Uncovering Back and Spine Health

Understanding the connection between discs, spine health, and back, especially lower back pain, is fundamental. The discomfort around your back can be any number of issues. In my opinion the discs and other age related changes are often related to back stiffness and tightness.

In fact, we know that only 10% of back pain can identified with imaging. MRI's for back pain are often not nessecary.

Changes in the discs can change the structure between your spinal vertebrae, leading to increased stress on the joints and spine. The disc changes are often related to a reduction in water and fluid that keeps the disc mobile. Interestingly, your muscles also play vital roles in instigating the pain you experience in your lower back and radiating back tightness. The core causes of such conditions are multifaceted and honestly unknown.

In addition to the lessening of the space provided by the intervertebral discs, a herniated disc can also play a role in low back pain. A disc herniation can cause the disc to protrude. This protrusion can lead to increased pressure on a nerve. The increase in pressure can cause pain to be felt at the site of compression as well as further down the body as these nerves provide sensation and movement to the lower extremity. Many times these discs will find their way back in on their own without the need of surgery.

Towards a Better Spine: Addressing Stiff Back with Effective Strategies

If you're dealing with a stiff back, you're not alone. Many experience back pain, specifically lower back pain, and tightness in their hips. This lowers your ability to take part in everyday activities. Your health shouldn't be compromised by constant pain. When I treat clients with stiff backs I know we need to start with mobility exercises to improve how the joints and muscles move.

At Revision Health Services, we're here to help. Our innovative strategies target the muscles in your back, helping to decrease back stiffness and reduce the pain- regain your health and life. Strengthen your core muscles with our personalized exercises, and watch how quickly your back improves with stretching and other activities that target the lower back.

Remember, it's not just about your back, it's about your spine health too. Don't let “degenerative disc diseases” or other spine-related issues keep you from living your best life.

lower stiff back and back pain
Manual Therapy for Lower Stiff Back

One of the best strategies that I use in the clinic is graded and exercise exposure. The idea behind these two principles are to modify movements and progress strengthening as tolerated.

For example, when I have a patient that has pain when bending over to pick something up. I may try starting by having them bend over and not lift anything. If that were to bother them still, we could go further by having them sit down and bend over. This can be regressed to the point of laying on the table and simply tilting the pelvis back and forth to mimic the movement that occurs when bending over. The point here is that no matter then issues or the stifness there are always exercises that we can do to improve how you feel.

As a patient becomes comfortable with the most basic component of the movement it can be progressed in a way that retrains the body to adapt to the movement. The end goal is to return to full function. More often than not there is a mental block that inhibits people from doing certain movements. By starting from the basic form of the movement and slowly progressing up, we can trick the brain into not fearing movement. Overcoming fear is half the battle when rehabbing those with low back pain. 

Consulting a Doctor: Your First Step to Combat Back Pain and Tightness

Experiencing back pain, stiff back, or tightness are common things to feel. Consulting a doctor of physical therapy at Revision Health Services is your first step towards pain relief. Our expert doctors can effectively manage your lower back pain and ensure that your back's vital spine and joints are in optimal health.

Back tightness can be efficiently diagnosed and treated. We understand that so many people experience back and lower back pain due to factors like degenerative discs and muscle problems. Our team of experts is committed to offering effective therapeutic strategies to assist you in achieving better spine health, easing stiff back, and eradicating the tightness. The best approach is always evidence based and applicable to your life. ]

The Success of Physical Therapy in Lower Back Pain Management

Unearthing the success of physical therapy in treating lower back pain, we at Revision Health Services are watching lives transform. Low back pain, stiff lower back and back tightness doesn't have to be your norm. I have seen and helped so many people overcome these things without surgery and without injections. Physical therapy is an evidenced based approach and safe approach to treating lower back pain. It's not easy but it will work with enough time and dedication.

You'll find your path to pain relief and health with our spinal, disc and vertebrae treatments. We've seen patients regain flexibility, having less back stiffness and pain with the right treatment. Our practice's focused approach will address overall spine health, because a healthy spine is a well cared for spine. Let's work together for a better, pain-free back.

Concierge Physical Therapy

In conclusion, we want to help you experience relief from lower back discomfort and move easier by mproving your spine health with our mobile physical therapy services in Jacksonville Florida. A stiff back or lower back pain symptoms can often be a result of long periods of sitting, a lack of physical activities, or just time. The great news is that you can recovery, it will get better, and there are many expert guided and evidenced based resources to help you improve.

Our services help you strengthen your core muscles and improve with stretching and other exercises that target your lower back, ensuring a more active body. We recognize that each back and spine is as unique as the person it belongs to, therefore, our therapists work on personalized plans to alleviate your back, lower back, and spine-related discomforts. Consult our health-focused, physical therapy team in St. Johns and Ponte Vedra today for a long term solution to your lower back pain and stiffness.

Revision Health Services offers physical therapy and wellness in Jacksonville, Nocatee, and St. Johns, Florida. To find out if our services could be the best fit for you, reach out and let's chat!


Romaniyanto, Ferdiansyah Mahyudin, Cita Rosita Sigit Prakoeswa, Hari Basuki Notobroto, Damayanti Tinduh, Ryan Ausrin, Fedik Abdul Rantam, Heri Suroto, Dwikora Novembri Utomo, Sholahuddin Rhatomy,An update of current therapeutic approach for Intervertebral Disc Degeneration: A review article, Annals of Medicine and Surgery,Volume 77, 2022, 103619, ISSN 2049-0801

Dr. Michael Derry is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and board certified in orthopedics. He is very passionate about treating lower back pain and helping people build their resiliency. He has spent time assisting at universities as well as managing large clinics before starting his own practice in Jacksonville, FL.

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