Researchers estimate that between 90 and 95 percent of adults suffer from acute back pain at some point in their lives. The treatments for back pain include rest, injections, ice, pain medication and even surgery. For the majority of injuries, doctors have moved away from prescribing bed rest and moved towards a rehabilitative exercise routine. One of the ways to safely and successfully create an exercise routine is to schedule regular sessions with a physical therapist. Therapists work to retrain your posture, strengthen your core and stretch tight muscles. Learn how to use physical therapy to relieve back pain.
1. Choose a physical therapist who specializes in back pain treatment. Make an appointment with your doctor to get a prescription for physical therapy. Ask the doctor to recommend a handful of physical therapists who have extensive experience treating cervical, thoracic or lumbar spinal pain.
2. Wait until you are at the sub-acute stage of injury before you start physical therapy. There are 3 stages of injury: acute, sub-acute and chronic stages. The sub-acute phase usually begins 2 to 4 weeks after injury.
3. Schedule an evaluation with your physical therapist. The first session will be dedicated to strength, balance and pain level tests. Your therapist should design a program based on your strengths and weaknesses.
4. Learn and practice proper posture. Physical therapists are starting to use global postural re-education (GPR) to assist patients in developing proper posture. PT techniques will include assisted stretching, range of motion exercises and muscle strengthening exercises.
5. Begin low-impact aerobic exercise. This includes walking, swimming or using an elliptical. These activities cause very little stress on your back, while toning and stretching muscles and increasing circulation.
6. Start your aerobic exercise routine gradually. Your physical therapist may give you some methods to try, such as doing a 10-minute elliptical warm up before stretching or exercising. Increase the exercise in small increments to avoid further injury and pain. As your muscles get stronger, you should be able to be more active without increasing your pain.
7. Begin a regular stretching routine. People often complain of "sciatica" or pain caused by the sciatic nerve through the hips, buttocks and legs. This, and other back problems, can be lessened dramatically by doing back and leg stretching once or twice daily.
8. Begin a strengthening exercise routine 3 to 4 times per week. These exercises should target your underlying core and postural muscles. When these muscles are strong, they support the spine and lower pain.
9. Create an exercise space at home so that you can do your exercises. Buy a yoga mat, small weights and any other low-cost equipment you use at physical therapy. You can reduce your sessions with a physical therapist if you are committed to doing the physical therapy routine at home.
10. Use pain treatment modalities. These are usually done at the end of a physical therapy session. Your physical therapist may suggest ice to reduce swelling, moist heat for muscle spasms or ultrasound for increasing circulation.
11. Get plenty of rest. Success in physical therapy requires that you avoid sitting or standing too much. Focus on getting plenty of sleep and keeping your back straight at night.
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