There are many causes of lower back pain – accident, injury, lifestyle, and even disease. However, regardless of the source, back pain can have the same undesirable effects on a person’s quality of life.
The pain level from lower back injuries can range from mild, where certain movements are difficult or uncomfortable, to acute where a person’s ability to work, sleep, or move normally is impacted. In the most severe cases, surgery may be required to restore normal function.
However, long before surgical intervention is considered, patients are often referred to physiotherapy clinics. There, they receive a range of treatments to help relieve pain and increase mobility from exercise, stretching, and spinal traction treatment to massage therapy and acupuncture.
Treatment for lower back pain can look very different from one patient to the next, and in many cases, minor injuries will heal on their own given time, rest, heat/ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers. Other self-care techniques might include modifying your daily activities, stretching, and taking a break from strenuous repetitive activity.
However, other times, successful management involves a combination of several techniques, including both at home and professional care. When back pain becomes too much to manage at home, a doctor might prescribe anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, or pain relievers in conjunction with physical therapy.
Also Read: Spinal Traction Treatment for Back Pain
All physical therapy sessions begin with patient history and evaluation of the injury. Once your physiotherapist has the background information needed, they can create a program tailored to your specific needs. Physiotherapists often utilize several techniques as part of a comprehensive physical therapy program. For lower back pain, these treatments typically focus on these areas of physiotherapy- active physical therapy, passive physical therapy, and specific types of strengthening exercises.
Active therapy is what most people imagine when picturing a session with a physiotherapist. In most cases of lower back pain, active therapy techniques will be the focus of treatment. Your program will likely include:
Stretching is an essential part of recovering from a lower back injury. Under the guidance of a trained physiotherapist, you will be prescribed stretches aimed at relaxing muscle tension around the spine while increasing your range of motion. Some patients also find spinal traction – a treatment where the spine is manually or mechanically stretched to relieve pressure on compressed discs to be extremely beneficial in short-term pain reduction.
Also Read: What is Spinal Decompression Treatment
Strengthening the muscles that support the spine is key to short- and long-term pain reduction results. Not only will strengthening your core relieves pressure from your spinal discs and joints, but exercising also releases the body’s natural painkilling endorphins, improve circulation, and helps alleviate stiffness.
Your physiotherapist will create a progressive exercise program based on your needs, demonstrating the correct technique during your sessions so you can maintain it at home.
In addition to active physical therapy described above and passive therapy techniques like heating, cooling, and other forms of pain management, patients suffering from lower back pain often incorporate therapies like massage and acupuncture into their recovery programs.
As a supplement to a comprehensive physical therapy program, a skilled massage therapist can provide substantial pain relief using massage. Massage therapy helps to relax tight muscles and improve circulation, which can provide near-immediate pain relief, making other aspects of your physical therapy program like stretching and exercise more comfortable to perform.
Like massage therapy, acupuncture is another popular technique frequently used to help relieve tension and pressure around the spine, providing tangible pain relief often in as little as a few sessions.