Physical therapy represents both a treatment in itself as well as a complement to numerous other treatments. In fact, the treatment of most types of diseases or conditions of the spine involves some physical therapy. Physical therapy can be used as both a non-invasive treatment for back pain and as a post-operative tool to help regain functionality of the back and its muscles.
Physical therapy varies from patient to patient. Before putting you on any physical therapy regimen, your physician will work with your physical therapist to define the goals of the treatment and to evaluate your movement, your body’s capabilities, and your activity level. The pacing, intensity, and type of exercises prescribed will depend on your individual circumstances, capabilities, and symptoms.
If you are recovering from back surgery, the primary focus of your physical therapy will be first to regain mobility, and then to strengthen your muscles and increase flexibility to keep your back healthy. Directly following surgery, the exercises may be particularly challenging, but are a necessary step in your recovery. When you have regained sufficient mobility, your physical therapy regimen will expand to include exercises aimed at regaining strength in your back muscles and abdominals, which will help you regain full mobility.
If you have sustained a minor back injury, physical therapy may be used in conjunction with medication, which will help control the pain. Strength training and stretching exercises, if done correctly, will often help you recover and prevent you from sustaining the same injury again. Physical therapists may also teach relaxation exercises, posture training and lifting techniques.
Continuing at home with exercises learned and maintaining good posture is a key part of any physical therapy routine. Occupational and physical therapists can show you how to adapt your daily routines in order to place less stress on the back. For example, energy conservation and back protection strategies can help to prevent further aggravations and recurrence of symptoms.