Physical Therapy Can Help Back & Neck Pain
You were walking down the stairs, feeling right as rain, when you moved to pick up an abandoned toy… A sharp pain accompanied that action. Or you wake up in the morning with a stiff neck from having slept the wrong way. Or perhaps you were playing tennis after a long hiatus and now there’s a kink in your back you can’t get rid of.
Any of this sound familiar? While the prevalence of neck and back pain is alarming, treatment for these ailments is easily accessible. From ice therapy to heat packs, the Internet has a lot to say about how to deal with back pain… But if you haven’t tried physical therapy, you could be missing the most helpful action you can take to relieve your suffering.
How physical therapy works to manage back and neck pain
According to Back Pain Centers of America, “The goal of pain management isn’t only to control pain, but also to regain range of motion and the ability to go on about your daily activities comfortably.”
Physical therapy takes the long view of bringing your body back to its full range of motion, free from pain. Programs that focus on physical therapy for back pain typically contain:
- The active portion. Exercises and stretches with the goal of increasing range of movement along with strengthening areas that could be contributing to neck or back pain.
- The passive portion. Passive elements that are done to the patient with the goal of reducing pain in afflicted areas.
Here’s what you should know about the active portion of physical therapy
Each program is tailored to the needs of the individual seeking pain management for their back or neck. This is because each body is different and responds differently to various therapies. Your physical therapist will assess your situation to find the right exercises for your body and pain challenge. However, typically, most physical therapy programs include some form of the following:
- exercises to increase one’s range of motion
- stretches to increase one’s range of motion
- exercises to strengthen muscle groups
- exercises to help diminish pain in the back and neck
- stretches to help diminish pain in the back and neck
- aerobic exercises to condition the body and increase overall health
Here’s what you should know about the passive portion of physical therapy
The passive portion of physical therapy involves helping patients manage pain episodes. Various pain management techniques are used, which include:
- Ice packs and heat therapy. Some patients respond to heat therapy and the application of heat packs. Whereas, others claim that ice massages are more effective. Both treatments help to reduce inflammation and spasming muscles, which could be causing pain signals.
- TENS units for electrotherapy. A TENS unit uses electric signals to curb back pain by overriding pain signals being sent to the brain. (TENS stands for transcutaneous nerve stimulator.) Note: Response to TENS varies depending on the individual.
- Iontophoresis. Refers to a method of delivering steroids to the pain-afflicted area. After applying the steroids on the skin, electrical currents are used to cause the topical to penetrate the skin layer to the pain source. It works as an anti-inflammatory.
- Ultrasound. This method of therapy involves using sound waves to provide deep heating of afflicted areas.
Is physical therapy right for you?
Pain that is not managed can have an increasingly debilitating effect on your life. From undermining your sleep to a subpar performance at work and at home. Physical therapy is right for you if you are looking to find long-term pain relief. Even for those who are not clear on the source of their back or neck pain, entering a physical therapy program is a good first step. A good therapy clinic will have medical staff who can help diagnose your symptoms and create a program tailored to what you need.
When choosing a physical therapy clinic, look for one that is easily accessible to your place of residence. But also consider reviews of the staff and therapists there. Or, you can ask your family doctor to recommend a physical therapist. You can do something about your back and neck pain. Start today.
Article by Daniel Bailey