Man with Back Pain
Back pain, especially lower back pain, is one of the most common issues that almost 80% of adults face at a certain point in their lives. Back pain can be of varying intensity and range from a sudden sharp sensation to constant dull pain.
The causes of back pain can vary from age-related issues to an accident or lifting of a heavy object. Not being physically active can also gradually result in lower back pain. Relief from back pain can be gained through regular physical therapy, whether it is chronic pain or pain caused by an injury or accident.
Physical therapy includes treatments that are focused on the management and prevention of disabilities or injuries. It aims to relieve pain, restore movement and function, and enhance the healing process.
How Is Physical Therapy Used for Pain Management?
A physical therapist usually focuses on reducing pain through either active or passive therapy. Active physical therapy includes:
- Aerobic conditioning through low-impact activities
- Exercises for pain-relief
- Strengthening exercises
- Movement-based activities like the range of motion exercises and stretching
Passive physical therapy includes:
- Dry needling
- Electric stimulations like TENS unit
- Ice and heat packs
- Manual therapies
The physical therapist might utilize both passive and active therapy for back pain management.
Getting Started with Physical Therapy
If you have chronic back pain that has started interfering with your everyday activities, it is highly recommended that you visit a physical therapist. The first thing an experienced physical therapist would do on your first visit is to conduct an initial evaluation to get a thorough idea of your condition.
This evaluation will consist of various steps, including getting your medical history where you would discuss all the symptoms, prior issues with back pain, which positions or activities worsen or improves your symptoms, what medication have you been taking, as well as your current physical activity regime.
The physical therapist can also ask additional questions to determine if there is a need for urgent medical attention. Your movements might also be measured, including your strength and range of motion. The evaluation might also include postural assessment.
Based on your evaluation results, your physical therapist will establish a treatment plan that would suit you best. The main focus will be placed on enhancing your flexibility and easing the back pain. For this, manual therapy might be utilized which would include:
- Manipulation – the pressure would be placed on your body using a device or with hands, which might range from fast to slow, and strong to gentle.
- Mobilization – measured and slow movements would be utilized to push, pull, or twist your joints and bones in position, which will enhance your flexibility.
- Massage – this will assist in relaxing the muscles, easing your pain, and enhancing circulation.
The main aim of physical therapy is to make it easy for you to perform your daily activities and tasks like climbing stairs and walking.
When to go for Physical Therapy
Your back pain can actually become a serious issue, which is the reason why it is important to consult an experienced healthcare provider, especially if your symptoms are continuous and are restricting your mobility and functions.
Certain symptoms and signs can indicate that you need urgent medical attention, including:
- Muscular Control Loss – if you are experiencing loss of muscular control in the toes, shin, calf, thigh, or hip, you need to get medical attention. Moreover, if you are unable to walk upstairs, rise up from a chair, or lift your legs to walk, you need to go to a physical therapist.
- Loss of Bladder or Bowel Function – if your lower back structures begin compressing the nerves or the spinal cord, which controls the bladder and bowel function then it can result in losing control of your bladder or bowel. The main symptom is not being able to urinate. If you are experiencing this with back pain, it is important to get physical therapy.
- History of Metastatic Disease or Cancer – although this is rare, it is still best to consult a physical therapist or another medical care provider. Tests will be conducted to eliminate the possibility of metastatic disease and a treatment plan would be established accordingly.
- Recent Major Trauma – this is also a rare occurrence, but if your back pain has been caused due to an automobile accident or a fall, then it indicates that your back experienced significant trauma. It is essential to visit a physician to determine if there is a possible fracture that might be causing the back pain.
In some cases, back pain is short-lived and goes away, at times, without any treatment. However, in many cases, inpiduals can suffer from multiple periods of back pain. Recurring back pain can worsen gradually, which is why it is essential that you not just get treated for the symptoms of back pain, but also take measures to prevent future back issues. This is the reason why physical therapy works best for back pain management.
Does Physical Therapy Hurt?
Many people are concerned whether physical therapy hurts or not. The truth is physical therapy, when performed by an experienced therapist, doesn’t hurt and is an extremely safe treatment. However, since it involves utilizing parts of the body that have chronic pain or have suffered injuries, physical therapy might be challenging for some. For instance, you might experience soreness after a massage or stretches.
The main reason behind this is that your therapist devices a plan based on specific needs that can enhance your health. At times, you need tough training in order to strengthen your back muscles. Every inpidual reacts differently to physical therapy, depending on their habits, alignment, physical activities, and body type. However, even then you shouldn’t feel severe pain during and after physical therapy.
It is essential to opt for a physical therapist with years of experience to get the best treatment. Alliance Orthopedics has a team of experts who are well-trained and experienced in providing physical therapy for back pain management.