Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain Relief

Patients suffering from most types of low back pain are often referred for physical therapy for four
weeks as an initial conservative (nonsurgical) treatment option before considering other more
aggressive treatments, including back surgery. The goals of physical therapy are to decrease back pain,
increase function, and teach the patient a maintenance program to prevent future back problems.

Common forms of physical therapy include:

    Passive physical therapy (modalities), which includes things done to the patient, such as heat
application, ice packs and electrical stimulation. For example, a heating pad may be applied to warm up
the muscles prior to doing exercising and stretching, and an ice pack may be used afterward to sooth the
muscles and soft tissues.
   Active physical therapy, which focuses on specific exercises and stretching. For most low back pain
treatments, active exercise is the focus of the physical therapy program.

This article focuses on active physical therapy and exercise as a means to help recover from back
problems and prevent or minimize future flare-ups of low back pain.

Lumbar spine (low back) stability is largely dependent on the supporting abdominal (stomach) and low
back musculature. The abdominal muscles provide the initial stabilizing support through their ability to
generate pressure within the abdomen which is exerted posteriorly on the spine, thus providing an
anterior support column (from the front of the spine). The low back muscles stabilize the spine from the
back and lead to posterior support. Simply stated, the bony spine and discs are surrounded by muscles,
and the stronger these specific muscles are, the less stress is placed on the discs and joints of the spine.
The patients should develop a 'belt' of muscle around their spine.

There is a substantial amount of medical literature supporting specific physical therapy exercises for the
treatment of low back pain. While most episodes of low back pain are self limiting and will get better on
their own, active exercise plays an important role in helping reduce the patient's pain and improving
subsequent function in patients with low back pain. An ongoing exercise program also reduces the
likelihood and severity of future occurrences of low back pain.

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