Physical therapy can be a solution to a wide range of problems like injury, stroke, avoiding surgery, recovering from surgery, improving mobility, and more. While physical therapy is most commonly associated with some sort of injury recovery, it is much more than that. Regardless of the cause, physical therapy might be a good solution for something as common and troublesome as back pain in order to decrease that pain, improve function, and also learn proper exercise techniques to maintain optimal health.
Causes of Back Pain
While back pain is a very common symptom for adults and athletes, there are a wide range of causes for it. One of the most common reasons is due to ligament strain or over use. This can result from lifting heavy objects improperly, going overboard during a workout, and sometimes even moving in an awkward or unfamiliar way. Worn or ruptured disks are another common cause of back pain that might land you in need of physical therapy as well. Beyond these causes, arthritis, osteoporosis, and other abnormalities could result in a referral from your doctor for physical therapy.
Forms of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is catered to each specific individual and their specific injury or pain. Depending on the cause of the pain or injury, you might benefit from passive or active therapy or a combination of the two. Passive physical therapy is a process of treatment happening to you like applying heat or ice or manual therapy as opposed to active therapy which involves strategic movement and exercises.
Passive or Manual Physical Therapy
The need for passive therapy can arise when an individual is experiencing issues like muscle swelling or stiffness. Alternating hot and cold can help increase blood flow, which can help with swelling, and stiffness can often be relieved by massage therapy which is also considered “passive therapy”. Another form of passive therapy that is typically focused on either back or neck pain or stiffness is electrotherapy, and Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization or IASTM physical therapy is a popular option for post-injury treatment.
Active Physical Therapy
Active physical therapy can alleviate a wide range of soreness or pain as well as increase flexibility and strength. Stretching is often a huge aspect of active physical therapy especially when it comes to back pain. Along with stretching, core muscle strength building like ab, glute, and hip muscle exercises are key in healing back pain. Your physical therapist will likely focus on these muscle groups that are closest to the spine, which also happen to be the muscle groups that do not get the most use in everyday life. Another common form of active physical therapy is low impact aerobics like biking, walking, swimming, and water aerobics. These help increase mobility without the stress of higher impact exercises.
Physical Therapy and Surgery
Unfortunately, surgery can sometimes mean a long road to full recovery. For back patients in particular, physical therapy plays a significant role in that recovery as it can greatly speed up the healing time. Because surgery can result in limited mobility, swelling, reduced strength, and some pain, physical therapy is often the best way to heal while strategically building strength and flexibility along the way.
Experiencing back pain or have more questions about how physical therapy may be able to help you? Contact Limitless Physical Therapy and Wellness, a San Marcos physical therapist, for more information or to schedule an appointment.