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      Physical therapy does wonders for back pain

      According to WebMD, back pain affects 80 percent of Americans at some point in their lives. And for Mike Pelletier, that pain came unexpectedly and it came quick.

      â??I travel a lot for my job which requires me to sit, and Iâ??ve been doing it for 21 years,â?? said Pelletier. â??One trip I drove back from downstate; I had totally numb legs. I was scared to death.â??

      He had been thinking surgery was a viable option, but decided to give physical therapy a try. â??I was really at a standstill at my progression of healing and then she started working on me,â?? Pelletier said. â??She stretches me out, she checks how Iâ??m doing each week and really just keeps an eye on how Iâ??m doing. Itâ??s taken the improvement to a whole new level by far.â??

      But besides sitting for long hours like Mike, what other factors contribute to back pain?

      â??It can be caused by several different things,â?? said Doctor of Physical Therapy, Sara Edlebeck. â??It could be a traumatic event or it could be something as prolonged posturing. A lot of times, people are sitting at their computer desk and they're sitting like this, and so their head comes forward, their shoulders round, they kind of get slouchy and they end up getting a lot of back pain.â??

      And while surgery may be the corrective solution for some, Mike is convinced itâ??s not for him. â??Thatâ??s the beautiful thing about physical therapy,â?? Pelletier said. â??You get a specialist like Sara that knows so much about the spine and how to take care of it. You can avoid surgery, you really can. It should be the last possible thing you do.â??

      Sara said prevention plays an enormous role in making sure you don't hit rock bottom with back pain. â??Exercise is crucial, not just to your general health, but to back pain as well,â?? said Edlebeck.

      And while so many people still suffer from back pain, it doesn't have to be that way.

      â??Iâ??m feeling 85 percent right now, which is a long way from where I was,â?? Pelletier said. â??So I think a few more visits and Iâ??ll be back to normal and living a very active life.â??