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How Physical Therapists Relieve Back Pain


Once you’ve developed symptoms of back pain, you may need to visit a physical therapist. A physical therapist will then work together with the patient to help restore their original mobility and help heal their body as a whole. Moreover, the therapist can also recommend a series of methods and techniques to help the individual minimize their pain and symptoms in the future.

Physical therapy includes both passive and active treatment options. Passive treatments are helpful for helping people relax while also helping the body heal. These are referred to as passive treatments because the patient does not need to actively participate in them to experience the benefits. Most physical therapy treatment plans may begin with passive treatment while the body begins to heal, however, the goal is to ultimately get the patient to participate in active treatments. Therapeutic exercises can help strengthen the body in order to help prevent future episodes of back pain.

Passive Treatments

A physical therapist may offer the following passive treatments including:

Deep Tissue Massage: This treatment method targets chronic muscle tension and/or spasms that build up as a result of daily life stress. Muscle tension or spasms can also be caused due to strains or sprains from sports injuries or trauma from an accident. A physical therapist can apply direct pressure and friction to the affected region in order to release the tension in the soft tissues, such as ligaments, tendons and muscles.

Hot and Cold Therapies: A physical therapist can alternate between using hot and cold treatment methods for a variety of symptoms. Through the use of heat therapy, for instance, the therapist can achieve an increased blood flow, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to the affected regions of the body. Good blood circulation is essential to remove waste products which may have manifested due to muscle spasms in addition to helping the patient heal. Through the use of cold therapy, for example, also referred to as cryotherapy, blood flow is decreased or slowed down to help reduce pain and inflammation from muscle spasms. Applying a cold pack to the affected region or an ice massage are common ways of applying cold therapy. Another option to cryotherapy is a spray called fluoromethane, which functions by cooling the tissues. After the application of ice to the affected area of the body, a physical therapist may help stretch the affected muscles to improve healing.

Transcutaneous nerve stimulation or TENS: A TENS machine helps stimulate the muscles through the use of electrical currents which help reduce muscle spasms by boosting the body’s production of endorphins, or the body’s natural pain killers. The TENS equipment a physical therapist utilizes can be considerably large, but smaller TENS units are available for use at home. Utilizing transcutaneous nerve stimulation can be beneficial.

Ultrasound: This form of treatment helps reduce muscle spasms, cramping, swelling, stiffness and pain by also increasing blood circulation. This is achieved by sending sound waves deep into the muscles and other tissues of the body, creating mild heat which functions to enhance blood flow.

Active Treatments

Active physical therapy treatments a therapist can perform includes guiding the patient through a series of stretches and exercises which can help improve the body’s overall strength, mobility, flexibility and stability. Each person’s physical therapy program should be specialized according to their specific needs and their type of injury or condition. Taking into consideration the individual’s specific quality of life, health and well-being, particularly for someone who has back pain symptoms, the physical therapist should develop a physical activity program which will best benefit the patient.

If needed, you may additionally need to learn how to correct your posture and incorporate ergonomic principles into your daily activities. This is all part of the “self-care” or “self-treatment” aspect of physical therapy: through physical therapy, you learn good habits and principles that enable you to take better care of your body. Your physical therapist may also suggest a personalized exercise program for you. This can help reduce the likelihood of your back pain recurring and can also improve your overall health and wellness.

The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 width=

By Dr. Alex Jimenez

Additional Topics: What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic care is an well-known, alternative treatment option utilized to prevent, diagnose and treat a variety of injuries and conditions associated with the spine, primarily subluxations or spinal misalignments. Chiropractic focuses on restoring and maintaining the overall health and wellness of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Through the use of spinal adjustments and manual manipulations, a chiropractor, or doctor of chiropractic, can carefully re-align the spine, improving a patient’s strength, mobility and flexibility.


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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "How Physical Therapists Relieve Back Pain" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.


Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
License Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*
Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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