Q:

How do you use physical therapy to relieve back pain?

A:

Quick Answer

According to WebMD, physical therapists use a variety of techniques to relieve back pain. Passive techniques, such as icing, electrical nerve stimulation and ultrasound, directly relieve pain and swelling. Active physical therapy includes exercises to increase flexibility, endurance and strength in the back area and supporting muscles.

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Full Answer

WebMD states that the immediate goal of physical therapy for back pain is to relieve the pain and reduce swelling. Massage and manipulation, ice, heat, electrical stimulation with a TENS unit and gentle stretching reduce pain and gradually improve the range of motion in the affected area. The physical therapist works to educate the patient on positioning the body in ways that minimize pain and promote healing. The patient may be provided with icing and heating routines or TENS therapy to use at home to relieve pain between therapy sessions.

As therapy progresses, more active, exercise-based approaches are included. WebMD maintains that the goal of physical therapy at this point is to restore function in the back region so that the patient is able to carry out his normal activities. Physical therapists provide the patient with exercises to relieve pain as well as strengthening exercises to increase muscle function. Stronger muscles support the back, better minimizing the risk of re-injury. Exercises to increase endurance, such as walking, may be prescribed to do at home.

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