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.
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 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 .
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.