Many people do not believe that using physical therapy to relieve back pain is worth the effort or the time it takes. Studies have found that outcomes and overall cost of treatment are directly effected when a patient is subjected to consistent therapy by a qualified therapist.
Physical therapy is usually recommended when an episode of back pain has lasted between two and six weeks or if recurrences happen often. If the pain is severe, some specialists will consider an earlier intervention with physical therapy.
Back pain can be relieved by using passive physical therapy to decrease the pain to a level that is manageable and increase function in the patient. When this has been achieved a maintenance program is instituted to prevent recurrences. Active physical therapy is then added to strengthen muscles and rehabilitate the spine.
Passive physical therapy are treatments that are done to the patient such as applying heat or ice packs, TENS units and ultrasound. Heat and ice packs help to reduce inflammation and muscle spasm. Heat therapy works better for some patients while some achieve more relief from cold therapy. Alternating the two can also be helpful. TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) units are used to override pain signals that the brain receives. Ultrasound is applying sound waives to penetrate into the soft tissues to create deep heating.
Active physical therapy is an exercise program designed to target the affected area of the back. Stretching the hamstring muscles a few times each day can significantly improve the condition of a person with recurrent back pain. Exercises for strengthening the back muscles and low-impact aerobic conditioning can also bring relief and fewer episodes of back pain.
Physical therapy is usually not a comfortable experience. Physical therapists know what exercises you need. They will make sure that you are performing them correctly and gaining the most benefit without causing further injury. You may also be given exercises to do at home between sessions to keep your rehabilitation consistent. Strengthening the muscle groups will lead to fewer painful episodes and a better quality of life for the patient.
If you're interested in seeing a physical therapist, contact Delta Physical Therapy for more information.