Low back pain is the nemesis of many. That familiar ache can limit time spent working, relaxing, and enjoying life. It can lead to irritability and a whole host of other health problems. And, yet, it’s surprisingly common.
The World Health Organization estimates that in the United States, 149 million days of work are lost due to low back pain. Back pain is the leading cause of inactivity and loss of work, and it appears in 60 to 70 percent of people in industrialized nations.
If you’re experiencing this type of pain, you know how important it is to find relief. Fortunately, a qualified physical therapist can guide you towards a pain-free life. Here are some ways that we can help, and reasons to call our office today.
What Is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy includes treatments that focus on the management of disabilities and injuries. It helps to alleviate pain, encourage healing, and bring about restored function and movement. It is performed by a trained physical therapist who is knowledgeable in evaluation and conservative management, including rehabilitation, of orthopedic, neurologic, and cardiovascular conditions.
There are two components to most physical therapy programs: passive physical therapy to reduce the patient’s pain so that it becomes more manageable, and active exercises that the patient engages in independently.
Passive Physical Therapy
When you’re suffering from back pain, it can be debilitating and makes it so you can’t be as active as you would like. As such, it’s important for a physical therapist to reduce your pain as much as possible so that you can actively participate in your treatment. These tools are often used as a form of ‘passive therapy’ because they are done to a patient by the physical therapist.
- Electrical stimulation, such as TENS Units
- Heat/ice packs
- Dry needling
- Manual therapies
We use some of these methods, such as hot/cold packs and massage therapy, to improve blood flow to the affected area, thereby reducing pain and swelling. We also utilize electrical stimulation therapy, which is a painless treatment that delivers tiny electrical waves through your nervous system to relieve pain, reduce muscle spasms, and encourage your body to produce pain-relieving hormones. Some of our clients are best suited for hydrotherapy treatment. This involves performing low-intensity movements in water which relieves pressure on muscles while allowing you to move your joints without discomfort.
Active Physical Therapy
Active physical therapy treatments are exercises performed by the patient and are often used in the later stages of physical therapy — once the low back pain has subsided enough so that the patient can perform them without excessive discomfort. There are many different types of exercises that a physical therapist may recommend, including stretching, stability training, and strength training. Some of these will help you with your flexibility and range of motion, while others help build the muscles around the painful area to provide those parts of the body with support.
What to Expect During Your Visits
When you first visit our clinic, your physical therapist will ask you several questions about your health, history, and low back pain specifically. Having this information will help your physical therapist provide you with the best treatment plan possible so that you see long-lasting results as quickly as possible.
Your physical therapist will also provide a thorough examination. Depending on your symptoms, your physical therapist may assess your strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, posture, blood pressure, and heart and respiration rates. This may include using his or her hands to palpate your back and surrounding area, as well as a visual examination of your mobility.
You may learn special exercises to perform at home so that you can minimize pain, avoid re-injury, lessen strain, and speed up your recovery time. Your PT specialist may recommend special equipment and will undoubtedly spend a great deal of time educating you about your source of pain and pain management strategies. He or she will also perform hands-on exercises to deliver you immediate relief.
When you’re ready to alleviate or eliminate your pain, contact Orthopedic and Balance Therapy to see how physical therapy can help you live a pain-free life.