Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a health care profession that combines specific principles from physiology and exercise science. When physical therapists work with individuals who are experiencing back pain, their goals are to alleviate pain, to help their patients achieve greater mobility and function, and to teach their patients the exercises and proper body mechanics to help them avoid future episodes of back pain and recover from them more quickly.

Physical therapy is a powerful way to alleviate your back pain and heal injuries. In many cases, engaging in physical therapy earlier rather than later can help you to heal your back more effectively and avert surgery. In fact, physical therapy is frequently recommended as an effective alternative to pain medication. In regards to back problems in particular, physical therapists can help with degenerative disk disease, spinal stenosis, herniated disks, and low back pain. Your physician may refer you to a physical therapist, but it is not always necessary to have a referral in most states. Check with your insurance company to see if you can make an appointment with a physical therapist directly.

Passive Therapies

When patients are in severe pain, physical therapists apply heat and ice treatments, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, or traction to alleviate the pain caused by injured and inflamed muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Active Therapies

Physical therapists also teach their patients specific stretches and series of exercises to bring back flexibility and mobility. They teach strengthening exercises for the back and core muscles, including McKenzie exercises and dynamic lumbar stabilization exercises. They also incorporate low-impact aerobic exercises into their treatments. Stretching, strengthening, and aerobic exercise all help to relieve pain and speed healing. In addition, physical therapists teach their clients how to incorporate these exercises into their daily lives and educate them about what to do in case of a relapse. A physical therapist will prescribe the exercises that are best for you and your unique situation and will make sure that you are using proper form in order to achieve the best results.

Proper Posture

Proper posture lies at the heart of what a physical therapist can teach a client. Misalignment of the spine, improper posture, and jobs that involve bending forward continuously throughout the day can place destructive amounts of stress on the natural “s” curves of the spine. Improper posture can exacerbate pinched nerves and lead to muscles spasms that cause headaches and neck pain. Physical therapists can identify the habits that lead to poor posture and can teach you exercises to strengthen your muscles so that you will be able to maintain proper posture throughout your daily activities.

Tips for Better Posture

When standing, remember to hold your stomach tight and your chest out and your head straight. When sitting, remember to sit up straight; this position is best for your spine. Use good ergonomics at work. Listen to your body. When you begin to feel stiff or sore after remaining in one position, move: arch your back, roll your shoulders, and stretch your neck.

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