Is Physical Therapy An Option For Your Back Pain?

There are many causes of back pain. When it is due to injury from an accident, from improper lifting, or disc problems, you may need to supplement your medical care with physical therapy. The only way to know is to have your back pain monitored by a medical professional who can direct you to a qualified physical therapy specialist if and when needed.

Physical therapy is one of many methods used to return the back to good health. We can’t always do it all ourselves when we hurt our back. No matter how many stretching and strengthening exercises we do, our back just won’t heal. Specialized techniques may be needed to aid in your rehabilitation.

When Do You Know You Need a Physical Therapist for Your Back Problems?

Here are a few examples that may qualify you to receive further care involving physical therapy:

  • Back pain from injury
  • Chronic pain
  • Rehabilitation after back surgery

Physical therapy may be a very valuable rehabilitation tool in your overall back health. Depending on your particular case, the physical therapist may prescribe active or passive care for your back pain.

Passive Physical Therapy

Passive care involves avoiding certain movements, applying cold or heat, or something that someone is doing to you. The following are methods a back pain sufferer may use before, during, or after physical therapy to relieve the pain:

Stay still – When given the order to stay in bed, rest, you would think that would be a welcome order to receive. However, most of us find it difficult to do this. The reason your doctor may order you to be on bed rest is so the inflammation in your back can calm down, lessening the pain and advancing the rehabilitation.

Use ice or heat – Ice can numb the pain so you can get some rest, as well as reduce inflammation and swelling of the joints. Heat relaxes the muscles so they can be massaged and unknotted in order to relax and heal. The use of cold and heat can be tricky so use your doctor’s advice when deciding which to apply, especially when you are in pain that is above the norm.

Nerve stimulation – The nerves that supply the back can be supplied with electrical impulses to relieve pain. One process is called TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). This works for people suffering from spinal stenosis. It can also be used in conjunction with acupuncture.

Chiropractic care – A chiropractor is used to helping people with spinal issues that result in back pain. You may need to be ” stretched.” It’s not like the process of making taffy but a gentle stretching of your back to lengthen the spine and alleviate pain and pressure.

Active Physical Therapy

Active physical therapy involves something that you do with supervision from the physical therapist.

Aerobic activity – This may be as simple as using a treadmill or stationary bicycle. The goal is to increase your blood circulation which increases oxygen intake. This increased circulation and oxygen will help muscle flexibility and strength.

Strength training – Building muscle in the back and body improves your back’s strength and resilience. The therapist will help you do strengthening exercises and will give you exercises to do at home as well. Start out slow to avoid injury and increase your repetitions as you get stronger. Follow your therapists instructions and stick with the exercises.

Stretching – Yoga and other stretching exercises perfects the connection between our muscles, bones, and mind. Stretching your entire body works to increase mobility and flexibility in your back. Your physical therapist will work with you on the perfect stretching exercises for your particular back problem.

Manipulation – Physical therapists are trained in the ins-and-outs of muscle structure and how each muscle interacts with the other muscles, bones and nerves. You may have the need for a procedure in which the therapist manipulates your muscles in a massaging fashion which ” revs up” the healing process by stimulating the nerves. This procedure is sometimes compared to revving up a car’s engine to get it to idle smoother.

Is physical therapy for your back pain a good option? It can be. Most doctors will work with you through a series of basic methods to relieve your back pain. They will then move you into the physical therapy area when they see you need additional rehabilitation to get your back, and you, back on track.

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