Back Pain Therapy
Back pain is pain in the neck…errs, back. Both literally and figuratively. It could disrupt your life, your work, routine, daily activities and even recreation. Fortunately for most people, episodes of back pain tend to get better within two weeks to two months.
This is called the healing period when your body strives to recover from the recent strain it has put up with. It is also at this precise point where you need appropriate back pain therapy.
The purpose of conservative treatment options, such as back pain therapy, include decrease muscle spasms, reduce pain, condition the back, assist in managing issues that are usually associated with back pain (e.g., sleeplessness or depression).
The other form of back pain therapy is chiropractic or osteopathic which requires assistance from a healthcare professional. On the other hand, physical back pain therapy is further divided into two classes – passive physical therapy (involving modalities) and active (exercises for back pain).
Passive Physical Back Pain Therapy
This class of physical back pain therapy is called “passive” because it is done to the patient, as opposed to the patient taking an active role in his healing. The therapy requires the use of several modalities.
- Heat/Ice Packs – These are the most commonly used type of modality used in passive physical back pain therapy. The degree of relief may depend on several factors. Some patients find that heat packs work better at reducing back pain while others consider ice packs as more effective. Either of the two may be used and may be alternated.
- Iontophoresis – This involves the application of steroids to the skin. Electrical current is added to cause the steroid to migrate under the skin where it has an anti-inflammatory effect, thus providing relief for the patient.
- TENS Units – Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) unit applies electrical stimulation to the back in order to modulate pain. The stimulation overrides the painful signals that are sent to the brain.
- Ultrasound – A form of deep heating, this passive physical back pain therapy applies sound waves to the skin where they penetrate into the soft tissues. This method can relieve acute pain and may even speed up muscle healing.
Active Physical Back Pain Therapy
In addition to using modalities, active physical back pain therapy is also important in order to condition the body and rehabilitate the spine. Patient should pay particular attention to the shoulders, back, hips, and legs when performing exercises. Active physical back pain therapy includes stretching, strength building exercises, and aerobic exercise.
A good physical therapist will combine passive and active physical back pain therapy, as exercise is essential to treating back pain. The therapist will determine which exercises are best for your particular condition and supervise you in those exercises to ensure you are doing them correctly.
You will likely be given stretches to be done daily, fifteen to twenty minutes of strengthening exercises, and thirty to forty minutes of low-impact aerobic exercise, such as swimming or walking, to be done three times a week.
You may feel some soreness or discomfort after active physical back pain therapy, but it should go away in about twelve to eighteen hours. If it doesn’t, let your therapist know. You may need to change exercises or how you are exercising.
Results vary depending upon the type of treatment done and the severity of symptoms, but a physical therapist should know in about two weeks if the treatment is working or not.
Massage Back Pain Therapy
Massage back pain therapy breaks down scar tissue and releases muscles from spasms. It is becoming increasingly more recognized as a form of medical treatment; a study by the American Massage Therapy Association found that 54% of healthcare providers encourage massage back pain therapy, along with other types of back pain therapy.
Studies have shown that massage back pain therapy is more effective than both chiropractic and acupuncture for relieving pain due to muscle spasms.
The benefits of massage back pain therapy include improved circulation, which helps alleviate muscle soreness; muscle relaxation, which helps muscles move without pain; and increased endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers.
If muscle spasms do not relax with massage therapy, that means inflammation is likely present and cannot be treated with massage. So if you know your back pain is due to inflammation, it won’t help to seek out massage back pain therapy.