30 Nov BENEFITS OF PHYSICAL THERAPY IN REDUCING BACK PAIN
Movement is a natural human condition, but modern lifestyles often imprison us. We spend a lot of time working a sedentary job, choosing to drive instead of walking. We find endless excuses why we can’t / don’t want to do sports today. And yet, people experiencing back pain, sometimes notice that walking, exercising makes them feel better.
WHEN IS PHYSICAL THERAPY USEFUL?
The human back is a highly complex system of series of interlocking elements including the vertebrae, discs, facet joints, ligaments, and muscles. The goals of physical therapy are to decrease back pain, increase the function of movement, and teach the patient how to prevent future back problems.
Physical therapy can be useful for various types of back pain. These are the most common problems:
- Non-specific lower back pain – this is back pain where no specific cause (such as an underlying medical condition or injury) has been identified.
- Sciatic pain – this is pain that spreads from your back down your legs. It may be caused by a prolapsed disc. A prolapsed disc is when a disc in your spine bulges out of its normal shape and presses on a nerve.
- Degenerative disc disease – back pain caused by aging of the discs in your spine.
- Spinal stenosis – the space around your spinal cord narrows, putting pressure on your spinal cord.
We must mention that physical therapists are not doctors, but also not sports trainers. They are health specialists, who focus on restoring movement and function of your whole body after you’ve been
affected by illness or injury. Physical therapists focus on how the nerves, muscles, and bones in your body are affected, and how treatment with exercise and manual therapies can help. They’ll encourage you to take an active part in your rehabilitation, rather than relying on passive treatments. The physical therapist also works in a team with a pain specialist, neurologist, and neurosurgeon.
It is important for them to know and properly assess the causes of the patient’s back pain, the treatment applied, and to take into account the recommendations of other specialists to select the most optimal treatment with movement.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING PHYSICAL THERAPY SESSION?
When you first see a physical therapist, he/she evaluate a patient’s medical history. He or she will ask you questions about any medical conditions you have, your lifestyle, and any medications you take. The physical therapist will surely want to know what symptoms you’ve been experiencing, and what tends to trigger them. Next, follows a detailed physical examination, including looking at how you move and how your back is functioning. Neurological assessment may be made as well to see how well your nerves are functioning.
After the first consultation, your physical therapist will explain what treatment he/she recommends, and how this might help your back pain. The therapist should also warn you about any potential risks of the treatment. If you’re unsure about anything, don’t be afraid to ask. It’s important that you fully understand what your physical therapist is proposing because cooperation between you and the specialist is the key to success.
The physical therapist will advise you how many sessions you’ll need and how frequently you’ll need them. This will depend on how badly your back pain is affecting you and how you’re managing your symptoms. It may take from a few visits to a longer course of physical therapy appointments over several months. It depends on your determination to follow the specialist’s instructions and specified exercises daily at home independently.
The specialist advises you what exercises must be done at home to reduce back pain in the most effective way and also gives advice on how to correct your posture.
PHYSICAL THERAPY BEFORE AND AFTER BACK SURGERY
Most neurosurgeons offer to try conservative treatments before the spinal surgery. For example, medications, injections, or other minimal interventions, and also physical therapy.
Often, the physical therapist combines different methods during the session. For example, passive manual therapy is combined with active, during which specific physical or stretching exercises are performed.
Physical therapy and exercises are considered an important part of most back pain patients’ treatments. Due to these exercises the abdominal and back muscles, which are crucial in providing stability to the spine, are strengthened. The stronger these muscles are, the lower is the load on the vertebrae and discs. This also reduces the likelihood and severity of future occurrences of low back pain.
There is substantial evidence supporting the benefits of physical therapy and exercise both before and after back surgery. The strength and stability that physical therapy provides can significantly shorten a patient‘s recovery time after surgery. Unless there is a contraindication for physical therapy or a patient requires emergency surgery, most patients are advised to undergo a course of physical therapy before considering back surgery.