Back Pain 101: Physical Therapy as an Effective Treatment Option
Medication, injections and surgery aren’t the only ways to decrease back pain. In fact, more spine specialists than ever are prescribing physical therapy for their patients as a first line treatment. If you’re in pain and are interested in physical therapy, here’s everything you need to know.
The Goals of Physical Therapy
A physical therapy program for back pain seeks to accomplish four goals:
- Decrease pain
- Improve function
- Increase patient knowledge and awareness
- Promote strength and endurance of the back and core muscles
A Physical Therapist will create and implement a comprehensive plan that includes a variety of passive treatments and active exercises incorporating data and information from a physician’s prescription.
Passive Treatment Modalities
Passive physical therapy refers to treatment that’s done to the patient. The most common passive treatment modalities for back pain are:
- Heat Therapy. Heating pads relax the back muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This decreases the frequency and severity of pain-producing muscle spasms.
- Cold Therapy. Ice packs are placed directly on painful areas to decrease pain and inflammation.
- A nerve stimulator unit helps decrease pain by blocking pain signals sent to the brain.
- Ultrasound therapy. An ultrasound machine sends pain relieving sound waves deep into soft tissues and muscles.
Active exercises are divided into two categories:
- Stretching exercises. When the lower back, abdomen, and hamstring muscles are properly stretched, patients see a decrease in pain due to an increase in flexibility and mobility. Doing simple movements becomes easier and less painful.
- Strengthening exercises. Improving lower back, pelvic and core strength decreases pain by improving stability and posture. This serves to create a natural “brace” for your back.
In some situations, a Physical Therapist might use low impact aerobic activity as an active exercise. This type of activity has the added benefit of helping patients tone muscles and improve endurance when exercising.
If you’re in pain and want to know if physical therapy can improve your condition, please contact our office to arrange an appointment with Dr. Gene Tekmyster. Once your condition is accurately diagnosed, a treatment plan that is right for you will be prescribed. While physical therapy can be a part of a comprehensive plan, it is not the only treatment option available. Dr. Gene Tekmyster will walk you through available options in order to maximize functional improvement and reduce pain. Call us today and make an appointment.