Recurring back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health, as well as the most frequent cause of activity limitation in people younger than 45 years old.
The belief that back pain will “heal” on its own is a common approach taken by many who suffer from it, however, recent research has shown that in fact the opposite is true.
Recent studies report that, when untreated, back pain may go away temporarily but will most likely return. The study demonstrated that in more than 33% of the people who experience lower back pain, the pain lasts for more than 30 days. Only 9% of the people who had lower back pain for more than 30 days were pain-free 5 years later.
Recurring back pain has been linked to muscular imbalances in the back, stomach or pelvic floor. To understand the correlation between muscular imbalance and back pain, it is important to understand more about muscular imbalance.
What is Muscular Imbalance?
In order for the body to properly move and function, there must be a balance of both the muscle length and strength between the opposing muscles that surround a joint. In or-der to keep the bone centered in the joint properly while in motion, it is necessary for there to be normal amounts of opposing force. Muscle Imbalance occurs when the opposing muscles surrounding a particular joint produce contrasting directions of tension as a result of tightness or weakness. Muscle imbalances are the result of poor posture, stress, repetitive movement, or injury. When a muscle imbalance is present, the body continues to endure movement, however, that movement takes place only along the path of least resistance, which is referred to as relative flexibility.
The Consequences of Untreated Muscular Imbalance
When left untreated, muscular imbalance can continue to leave a strain on the affected joint(s), which in turn affects the surrounding nerves, creating a center of pain. The body then attempts to adjust itself in an effort to provide relief, causing muscle imbalance in another part of the body. The result is a continuing cycle of muscle imbalance which will eventually lead to problems ranging from posture to spinal positioning, and ultimately leading to issues walking, sitting and even lying down over time.
Correcting Muscle Imbalance Through Muscle Testing
Because muscle imbalance will eventually lead to larger problems if left untreated, it should not be taken lightly. The key to success in treating any muscle imbalance is to find the root cause of the muscle imbalance and develop a precise treatment plan to correct it. While manual muscle testing has been a commonly used tool to diagnose and treat muscle imbalances, there are significant limitations that can inhibit a proper treatment plan. The reliability of the results are dependent on the muscles that are examined, the experience of the individual performing the examination, and the patient’s age and overall medical condition. Manual muscle testing is considered subjective, with the results based on a scale of 0 to 5, with 0 being “None” – no visible or palpable contractions, and 5 being “Normal” – Full ROM against gravity, maximum resistance. This scale leaves very little interpretation for the needs and condition of the individual patient, and next to no documentation that can help to address specific conditions that may be overlooked, which can inhibit the development of an effective overall treatment plan.
In contrast to standard manual muscle testing methods, computerized muscle testing allows for objective muscle strength measurements, which can be used for specific isolated muscles or muscle groups. Computerized muscle testing results allows for the formulation of more individualized treatment plans as well as offering the ability to measure progress.
Computerized muscle testing provides clinically relevant results with supporting documentation, supplying medical professionals with information that can help better focus on the specific nature of the imbalance as well as where to focus the treatment efforts, in which there are three main areas:
- Mobilizing any affected joints and releasing any short, tight muscles and soft tissues
- Strengthening any longer, weaker muscles that will aid in correcting alignment and movement control
- Identifying and changing any factors that are contributing to the underlying issue
Joint pain as a result of muscle imbalance can be corrected if properly identified and treated. Most importantly, optimal results are achieved through a proper treatment sequence. Performing random stretches and exercises based on inconclusive data can cause an individual more harm than good.
Kennebec is a leader in Range of Motion and Muscle Testing products, offering computerized muscle testing systems that automatically create two types of session reports sufficient for insurance reimbursement, proving medical necessity, and increasing attorney referrals. Product lines offer two levels of reports, Lite, and Premium, depending on the needs of the client. For more information on MT Lite, MT Premium, Proof Preferred Lite and Proof Preferred Premium, contact them today, where their experts will be happy to speak with you and answer any questions you may have.