Physical therapy is a science that blends physiology with exercise and applies these principles to your body when you suffer an injury. Your Pain Management Doctors will often incorporate physical therapy into your pain management program. Physical therapy for the neck and back focuses on the structure supporting the spine and the joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles.
Research shows 90 percent of the population will experience back and neck symptoms at least one time during their life. Many people who have back and neck pain will have their pain travel into their arms, gluts, hips, legs, and groin. Over time, stiffness and pain can get worse and last for a longer period of time. If you don’t break the cycle, the damage can accumulate and cause failure of the spinal structure. If symptoms were dealt with earlier on, it is estimated that up to 95 percent of herniated disc patients wouldn’t need surgery.
The 4 Main Goals of Physical Therapy
There are 4 goals that physical therapy will focus on:
1. Educate you on the strengthening and stretching principle, which will help you to better manage your pain and to speed up the healing process.
2. Educate you on correct posture to keep your spine healthy.
o Increase the rate at which healing occurs by focusing on the reduction of pain and inflammation with tools such as heat, ice, traction, ultrasound, TENS, etc.
o Restoring joint mobility, spine motion and muscular flexibility by introducing you to stretch and other movements to help relieve/eliminate pain and stiffness.
o Strengthen the muscles involve and teach you new posture positions so that you can maintain the new muscle strength.
o Return to your normal activities and help you to become better aware of your body mechanics.
3. Prevent the recurrence of your injury in the future. Teach you how to deter relapses from occurring.
4. Teach you how to manage flare-ups. Even the most careful person will occasionally do something that causes the injury to flare up but physical therapy will teach you things to do to eliminate the symptoms quickly.
Your physical therapist will make sure that you are prescribed the right stretches and exercises for your condition. In addition, you can do the following to help decrease your back and neck pain.
• Driving – Sit straight up and make sure your head is against the headrest. Keeping your arms straight will keep your shoulders back. Tilt your mirror slightly up towards the roof so you have to maintain your posture to have vision in the mirror.
• Sleeping – Put yourself in a neutral position, which means if you are on your back or side using one pillow. Try not to lie on your stomach when you have neck pain. If you lie on your side, make sure that your head is in a position where you are looking ahead, not at your feet.
• Computer Use – Position your screen at eye level with your chin in and head back. Sit back in the chair and make use of a lumbar roll.
• Reading – You should not read in bed because this often causes head flexion when pillows are bunched together behind your head. If you are going to read in bed, sit with your back up against your headboard.
Your Los Angeles Pain Management Doctors will work to create a pain management protocol that works for you and that could include physical therapy.