How Can Physiotherapy Give Relief From Back Pain?


What is physiotherapy or physical therapy?

According to the WCPT (World Confederation of Physical Therapists):
"Physical Therapy is concerned with identifying and maximizing quality of life and movement potential within the spheres of promotion, prevention, treatment/intervention, habilitation and rehabilitation."
"Physical therapy provides services to individuals and populations to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout the life span. This includes providing services in circumstances where movement and function are threatened by ageing, injury, pain, diseases, disorders, conditions or environmental factors."
So a physiotherapist or physical therapist will always be concerned about you maintaining or improving your movement functionality. Anything that hinders or otherwise facilitates your movement will be of utmost concern and priority.

Interestingly, pain is one of the major hindrances to movement and that is why physiotherapy is very much in the mainstream when it comes to pain management.
All back pain don't have the same causes, so based on your physiotherapist's findings or assessment she will come up with a treatment program scheduled to meet your own needs.

There are a variety of causes of low back pain which may indicate whether the back pain is specific or non specific. Majority of people who complain of low back pain present with a non specific cause. Non specific back pain simply indicates that the cause of the back pain is not specific or linked to any pathology.

The less common specific low back pain is back pain with a specific cause or pathology like cancer, trauma, fracture, spinal stenosis and disc prolapse.

The main focus for physiotherapy management of pain is:

  • Relieving pain
  • Muscle Strengthening
  • Restoring normal range of movement (ROM)
  • Restoring normal function
  • Preventing a re-occurence

Pain Relief
There are a number of physiotherapeutic pain relieving modalities and methods, but it's up to the physiotherapist to decide on which is best for your specific situation.
Treatment options include ice, soft tissue massage, acupuncture, exercise and electrotherapy.

Strengthening and Mobilization
There are various techniques to achieve the goal of strengthening weak muscles and restoring the normal range of movement of the back. The physical therapist can prescribe back exercises and or  apply manipulative techniques depending on your presenting situation. Physiotherapy will also include balance training and teaching proper walking patterns.

Education
Your physiotherapist will educate you on how to care for your back and prevent damage or back pain re-occurence. You will be taught exercises that will protect and support your back and also prevent recurring back pain.

Postural reeducation and lifestyle changes are key points that your physiotherapist will also address.

This is a very important aspect of back pain management as research has shown that low back pain returns when preventive measures are ignored.

In some cases your physical therapist may recommend the use of a back brace, depending on your presenting condition. However, this period of immobility will be closely monitored as movement of the back is an extremely important component of the healing process.

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