Back pain is a common problem amongst amputees. 20-40% of the general population experience back pain, but according to a study out of Manchester, UK, 62% of transtibial amputees and 81% of transfemoral amputees suffered from back pain.
What causes back pain?
There are several different causes of back pain, including some very serious medical issues like tumors. It’s important to see a doctor right away if your back pain is consistently getting worse, if you’ve gained or lost significant weight, if you’re struggling with bowel or bladder control, or if the pain is waking you up at night. For amputees, a common cause of back pain is that their prosthesis does not fit properly. Your entire body works together, and when something is out of balance, the rest of your body often overcompensates.
If your prosthesis is too long or too short, then your gait (the way you move your legs) will not balance correctly. The muscles in your lower back must compensate, and even though it might take weeks or months, eventually these muscles will become tired and sore.
How to treat back pain
If you’re experiencing back pain, then we recommend you schedule an appointment with us at Georgia Prosthetics. We can observe the way you walk, looking for any inconsistencies in your gait. Depending on your situation, we might recommend one or several of the following treatments.
Adjusting the height of your prosthesis: Although your prosthesis was designed to keep each limb at the same length, this balance can change as your prosthesis settles over time. This can affect both the way you walk and stand, and each can contribute to back pain. Because of this, you may need to adjust the height and fit of your prosthesis. Putting your body back into balance can help reduce the strain on your pelvis and lower back muscles.
Changing your habits: Some issues are simply habitual. Maybe you’ve grown accustomed to swinging one leg out farther than the other or not placing the same amount of weight on each side. Bad posture is another common habit that needs to change for many people. We can develop exercises to help you improve the way you walk, stand, and move. Prosthetics can also cause extra strain on your back muscles, so strengthening your back muscles and regular stretching will help improve your back’s ability to support your movement.
Weight management: Another possible cause of back pain is an increased BMI. Losing weight can be a difficult task, but is important for your overall health. Many of our patients come to us initially, fearing that they will never be able to walk or exercise again. But we design prosthetics that enable our patients to live active lifestyles. This, coupled with a healthy diet, will help improve your BMI and reduce back pain.
Are you experiencing back pain?
If you’re an amputee in the Atlanta area and are experiencing back pain, then we recommend you contact us and schedule an appointment today.
We have a long history of working with patients, providing them top quality prosthetics. We will analyze your prosthesis and identify any adjustments that need to be made, helping reduce your back pain to enable a pain-free and active lifestyle.