Non-Surgical Back Pain Treatment Suggestions From Our Physical Therapist
Back pain is serious business — but so is back surgery. If you’re plagued by nagging, chronic back pain, you might be willing to do just about anything to get that pain under control and return to your preferred way of life. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should leap into a major procedure such as spinal fusion or discectomy surgery. These procedures may or may not relieve your pain; in fact, a failed back surgery can leave you in even more agony than before. It always makes sense to pursue non-surgical treatment methods first. In no particular order, here are 5 ways you can address your back pain non-surgically, courtesy of our physical therapist.
Tight, stiff muscles can cause back pain directly, or they can make another back pain condition feel that much worse. Stretches can limber up the muscles, easing your pain and giving you a greater range of motion. Loose, relaxed back muscles are also less likely to sustain new injuries. A typical series of physical therapy stretches for the back might include knee-to-chest stretches, kneeling lunge stretches, back flexion stretches, and piriformis muscle stretches.
2. Strength-Building Exercises
Back pain may be caused by structural changes such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or spondylolisthesis. The stronger you can make your back muscles, the more effectively those muscles can compensate for these changes. With a stronger back, you can maintain a straighter posture with less pain. Common exercises to strengthen the back include bridges, lying lateral leg raises, and partial curls.
3. Massage Therapy
Massage therapy can benefit your back in a number of ways. The manipulation of tissues near the skin surface (a technique known as Swedish massage) can increase circulation to tired or strained muscles. The extra blood flow and fluid drainage can ease inflammation and help damaged tissues heal themselves more easily. It also eases painful muscle spasms. A stronger technique called deep tissue massage goes even further. Manipulation of deeper muscle groups can break up adhesions, masses of scar tissue that sometimes form over an injury site. Once the muscles have been freed from the scar tissue, they can function without pain and stiffness.
4. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, is a state-of-the-art method for controlling back pain. Electrodes attached to the back send out electrical signals that stimulate the nerves. While its exact pain-relieving mechanism remains somewhat mysterious, it’s believed that the impulses affect neural “pain gates” and/or trigger production of endorphins.
5. Heat and Cold Therapy
Heat and cold have their own distinct healing and pain-relieving properties. Our physical therapist may administer either technique or both techniques together (in sessions of 15 to 20 minutes each). Cold therapy can prove especially useful as an immediate treatment for acute back injuries or when dealing with severe muscle strain. The cold reduces inflammation and swelling while also numbing the nerves. Heat boosts the circulation, helping inflammatory substances to exit the tissues and relaxing painful muscles.
Physical Therapy Offers Structured, Multi-Modal Back Pain Management
You could pursue any of these back pain management methods individually — but using them in combination is more likely to give you optimal results. That’s where physical therapy can prove immensely helpful and convenient. We can create a customized physical therapy plan in which these various techniques complement each other for maximum effectiveness. Contact our physical therapist today to schedule a consultation and learn more about our conservative back pain management strategies!