Back Pain

Therapy For Back Pain

Back Pain Treatment with Exercise

Lower or mid back pain can be debilitating, and it’s tempting to rush to an orthopedic doctor to get help. But wait – physical therapists are skilled at evaluating and treating most back pain problems. What’s more, they are trained to assess whether your condition requires more diagnostic evaluation. Seeing a physical therapist first saves valuable time and expense for the majority of back pain conditions. At Saunders, our approach entails:

Musculoskeletal Evaluation: A thorough evaluation will be performed on your initial visit to assess for possible muscle imbalances, myofascial restrictions, joint dysfunction, and nerve involvement that may be contributing to your symptoms.

Manual Therapy: Our therapists all have advanced training in manual therapy which is a hands-on approach that addresses restrictions in the soft tissue, myofascial system, and/or the spinal joints to facilitate proper alignment and healing.

Spinal Stabilization and Exercise: Studies have shown that deep muscles which control spinal movement are inhibited with your first episode of low or mid back problems. These muscles do not automatically return to proper function when the pain subsides, leaving you vulnerable to further injury. You will be shown specific exercises to activate these muscles properly, decreasing the likelihood of future back pain episodes.

Postural Education and Body Mechanics: Our physical therapists will teach you body awareness and you will learn mechanics and postures that decrease load and stress on the spine, relieving your back pain.

Back Pain Treatment with Exercise

Physical Therapy Back Pain Techniques

Physical therapists can immediately decrease back pain with manual therapy, myofascial techniques, postural training, and restoring muscular length and strength through specific exercise.


What Causes Back Pain?

Back Pain Treatment

Back pain – or lumbar spine pain – can be the result of a single event or trauma, or the result of a combination of factors including poor posture, declining physical fitness, and/or repetitive activities, including faulty lifting, bending, or twisting. Previous injury and family history may also be a contributing factor.

Lower back pain is usually non-serious and resolves within 2-6 weeks. Sometimes, back pain is accompanied by upper back pain, buttock pain, or pain down the leg. Physical therapists at Saunders Therapy Centers can get to the root cause of your pain, and provide immediate treatment to lessen the intensity and duration of your pain. In some cases, you only need one or two clinic treatments. Common causes of back pain include:

Muscle Strain: Sleeping without proper support, over-working during exercise, or bending or twisting the “wrong way” can cause a temporary but very painful strain. You may not be able to rotate, flex, or extend your back fully. It may hurt more to move around or change positions.

Lumbar Osteoarthritis: This is a wear-and-tear condition, also called lumbar arthritis. As we age, the space between vertebrae in the back decreases, and excessive friction can cause pain. Even though structural changes are inevitable with age, pain is not! Improving posture and strengthening the stabilizing muscles (the abdominal core and hips) is key to help with this condition.

Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease: Though scary-sounding, this condition is closely related to osteoarthritis, in that it is a wear-and-tear condition. Disc degeneration typically causes a low-level chronic back pain with occasional episodes of more severe pain. Treatment is similar to osteoarthritis and involves postural training, core strengthening, and manual therapy.

Facet Joint Syndrome: The joints between each vertebra can become slightly misaligned or inflamed, causing pain. Manual therapy techniques can restore normal motion and decrease inflammation.

Lumbar Disc Herniation: Between each vertebra is a structure called the “disc”, which can bulge or herniate, placing pressure on nearby structures including the nerves. More severe disc herniations can cause leg, foot, and toe pain and weakness. Lumbar traction and manual therapy techniques can be helpful. Surgery is not always necessary, so physical therapy should usually be tried first.

manual therapy for back pain

How Can We Help?

Saunders Therapy Centers therapists are highly skilled at evaluation, and will know the specific techniques to use depending on the source of your symptoms. When your pain improves (often rapidly!), almost all lower back pain patients benefit from postural restoration and exercise to restore normal muscle length and strength to prevent a future episode.


When is Back Pain Serious?

Saunders Physical Therapist

Back pain is usually non-serious and resolves within 2-6 weeks. Rarely, back pain should be considered an emergency, or needs further treatment before seeing a physical therapist. Here are some situations where you should seek immediate medical attention:

Trauma or Accident: If your back pain was caused by a slip or fall, or significant trauma such as a motor vehicle accident, you should have a medical evaluation to make sure there is not a fracture or instability before seeing a physical therapist.

Numbness in the Feet or Toes: Leg, foot, or toe numbness may be a sign that a nerve is pinched. Physical therapy can help with this, but if numbness is severe or progressing, you should see your physician.

Sudden or Progressive Weakness of Your Leg: Nerves in the lower back supply the muscles of your legs. Sudden or increasing weakness of the knees, ankles, or toes may be a sign that a nerve is pinched, and further medical evaluation is needed.

Loss of Bowel or Bladder Control: Sudden changes in bowel or bladder control can be a sign that there is pressure on the spinal cord, and is considered an emergency condition. See a physician right away if you experience these symptoms.


Saunders Physical Therapist