Physical therapy is an essential tool for overcoming back and neck pain – both before and after a spinal procedure. The basic goal of physical therapy is for the individual to regain comfortable function and mobility in the injured part of the body. The specific techniques used by physical therapists vary widely because some patients require therapy to regain strength after an operation, while other individuals use physical therapy as a preventative measure to avoid surgery altogether.
Physical Therapy as Rehabilitation
When people hear the term physical therapy, they commonly associate it with recovering from surgery. For patients who have undergone a spinal procedure to treat neck or back pain, thorough rehabilitation is vital to ensure the success of the operation. For patients who have undergone massively invasive open spine surgery, physical therapy usually begins in the hospital and will continue for several months as the individual slowly recovers from the muscle trauma. On the other hand, patients who elect to undergo an outpatient procedure usually only require a handful of sessions with a physical therapist to strengthen the supporting muscles and increase the likelihood of sustained nerve decompression.
Physical Therapy to Avoid Surgery
Physical therapy can also be an effective way to avoid surgery. In many cases, pain can be alleviated by strengthening targeted sections of the body and increasing flexibly with stretching exercises. This form of conservative treatment is a way to overcome pain in the short-term and decrease the likelihood of future injury. However, the most important aspect of exercise is to do it safely and responsibly so that you do not sustain further damage from overly strenuous activities. Always consult a doctor or fitness professional before embarking on any regimen of exercise.
Physical Therapy Techniques
The specific physical therapy techniques recommended to a patient vary widely depending on the pathology of the patient’s problem. Therapy sessions are always tailored to the patient and are carefully designed to target specific parts of the body. In most cases, therapy is an incremental process where the therapist starts off with slower, less-intensive exercises and gradually builds as strength returns. Eventually, therapy can usually be completed at home and visits to a therapist become more infrequent.
Some common forms of physical therapy include:
- Pool therapy
- Lumbar stabilization exercise
- McKenzie Method of Exercise
- Massage therapy
- Rehabilitation exercise
- Heat/cold therapy
If you are suffering from an injury or prolonged back or neck pain, contact your physician for a full medical review today. There may be a more serious underlying cause of your pain – such as a herniated disc or bone spur – that requires medication, physical therapy, and other treatments before pain relief can be achieved.