At least 75 percent of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives. It causes more than discomfort, 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 at Rosepine Elementary. "It was a 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."
Monica did injections and physical therapy, but both were like bandaids to her pain. "That did seem to help, but you're only allowed so many sessions of physical therapy," she said.
Then Monica was selected as one of 100 patients at Center for Orthopaedics to take part in a trial developed by physical medicine and rehab physician, Dr. Craig Morton, and exercise physiologist, Carl Comeaux. The trial centered on a first of its kind at home DVD exercise program to improve the 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. Morton.
At home exercises are nothing new for back pain patients, but those instructions are typically 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 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 says she liked it so much she plans to keep it going.
"My back was stronger. I could stand for longer periods of time and I was more flexible," she said.
Dr. Morton says the feedback from his patients has been overwhelmingly positive. "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," he said.