Tom Willemann Health Tips

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Pinpointing a Low Back Pain Problem

Five is an unlucky number for many people with spondylolysis (spon-dee-low-LYE-sis), because this condition—a weakness or stress fracture of a spinal bone—is most often found near the fifth lumbar vertebra in the lower back. It may, however, occur in other lumbar vertebrae, as well as in the chest area.

Spondylolysis is often caused by overuse, especially in such sports as weightlifting, football and gymnastics that typically stress the lower spine.  Or, a person can be genetically predisposed to developing spondylolysis, having been born with thinner-than-average vertebral bone more prone to fracture. Spondylolysis can cause considerable discomfort, although many people show x-ray evidence of the condition but feel no pain. Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, many conservative measures can be employed to help you heal. If the condition is related to sports, for example, you need to take a hiatus from participation. In general, rest can be useful, but not so much that your back muscles become weak.

Other treatments include: 

  • learning and utilizing proper posture and spinal alignment
  • walking, sitting and lifting in ways that minimize lower back strain
  • temporarily wearing a back brace
  • taking medication as necessary to relieve inflammation and pain (prescription or over-the-counter, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen)

When these strategies are not enough, other options such as steroid injections or surgery are available, as well.

Strengthening and controlling your back muscles and abdominal muscles often alleviates discomfort from spondylolysis.


Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann is a premier physical therapist based out of Bergen County, New Jersey. He holds an MS in physical therapy from the University of Miami, is credentialed in the world-renowned McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), and holds an OCS (Orthopedic Clinical Specialist) certification. As of 2018, there are approximately 14,000 ABPTS certified specialists in the nation and less than 400 of them are located in the state of New Jersey. Tom is the owner and director of Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Paramus. He opened the clinic, which specializes in spine and sports injury prevention, in 2004 after many years of experience in the field. Tom’s caring interest in others and his strong belief in continuity of care, combined with his clinic’s ability to find solutions for the most difficult orthopedic problems, have earned Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation its excellent reputation with patients and medical professionals in northeastern New Jersey and beyond. A true “family man,” Tom takes pride in his clinic’s warm and welcoming environment.
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