What Can You Expect When You Get Lower Back Physical Therapy
The initial assessment for lower back physical therapy consists of knowing about various components of the patient’s history, which include age, weight loss, weakness, and sensory changes. The therapist will also ask you an array of questions such as what makes your back pain better or worse, how long you have had it, was there a mechanism of injury? Also, what your goals are.
All of this information tells your therapist about what is going on with your back pain and alerts him/her if there is a probable medical emergency. Some of these questions may not seem important to you, but they will be useful to your therapist in determining the source of your pain and treatment that will relieve your back pain. Below are just some of the more common questions your lower back physical therapist will ask you.
A. Understanding Your Back Pain
The human back has been designed to provide a great deal of strength, protect sensitive spinal cord and nerve roots along with providing flexibility and mobility in all directions. However, different parts of spine can be the reason for the back pain. Before your doctor signs up for a treatment, it is important to understand the underlying cause of your back pain.
B. What Makes Your Back Pain Better or Worse
What are the positions that make your back pain better or worse? Does it feel better -standing, sitting, or sleeping? Various factors, like your body posture, affects your back pain. Listing some of them:
- Age – Back pain gets more common as you get older, starting around age 30 or 40.
- Lack of exercise – Weak, unused muscles
- Excess weight – puts extra strain on your back.
- Diseases – Some types of arthritis and cancer can contribute to back pain.
- Psychological conditions – patients prone to depression and anxiety can have a greater risk of back pain.
- Improper lifting – Using your back instead of your legs can lead to back pain.
- Smoking – it reduces blood flow to the lower spine, which can prevent your body from delivering enough nutrients to the disks in your back. Smoking also slows healing.
C. How Long Have You Endured
Knowing how long a patient has had back pain is important for your physical therapist. If you’ve just suffered an injury it is considered acute. If you’ve had it for less than 12 weeks it’s considered sub-acute, and chronic if you’ve endured for longer than 12 weeks. This is important to your lower back physical therapist because they’ll need to adjust your treatments based on this.
D. What Treatments Have You Tried
Depending on the type of back pain, your doctor might recommend specific treatment to you. However, once you sign up for physical therapy, your therapist takes account of all the treatments you have tried, what worked, and what didn’t work.
Once your physical therapist had asked you an array of questions, the next step is to do a physical examination to see exactly what is going on with your lower back. The premise of the physical examination is to get an accurate diagnosis of what’s going on with your lower back and then to fix the cause of it. Below are just some of the tests and measure your lower back physical therapist will do:
1. Range Of Motion Testing
Range of motion testing is the measurement of movement around a specific joint or body part. In order to have a full range of motion, your joint or muscle must have good flexibility. This step may include the use of goniometer – an instrument that measures the angle of joints.
2. Muscle Strength
This process usually includes the use of muscle strength grading scale, which often allows your physical therapist to determine how a muscle or group of muscles is working.
3. Detecting the Cause of Your Injury
The course of physical therapy includes detecting the major cause of injury, which helps your therapist to plan the most suitable treatment.
4. Functional Testing
The major goal of a rehabilitation program is to help a patient function as quickly as possible. Functional testing includes various activities to provide a baseline for determining progress to compare performance.
Lower Back Physical Therapy Treatment:
● Spinal Traction
Spinal traction is a form of decompression therapy that aims to relieve pressure on spine. It can be performed mechanically or manually and is used to treat chronic back pain due to herniated discs, sciatica, pinched nerves, degenerative disc disease, and other back conditions.
● Lower Back Exercises
There is a wide range of lower back exercises which strengthens back, leg muscles, and stomach and help relieve back pain and support your spine. Sometimes all you need is a few lower back exercises to ease the pain and stiffness in your lower back. Depending on your condition, your physical therapist can provide the right exercises that you need to be performing.
● Patient Education
Around 80% of people accept having lower back pain at some point in their life. Unfortunately, very few of them receive the right treatment. Patients’ awareness regarding lower back pain is important for the prevention of this condition and healing optimally. For instance, patients will need to be educated on how to sit, bend, lift, and twist properly.
● Manual Therapy & Myofascial Release
Manual therapy provides instant as well as long-term relief to patients with chronic and acute back pain. It also helps to ease the joint problems, muscle strains, or a strained back. It also helps with a herniated and bulging disc. Usually the best lower back physical therapists know how to provide this type of treatment.
● Spinal Manipulation
Spinal manipulation is one of the best treatments for acute and sub-acute lower back pain that your lower back physical therapist that can provide. Spinal manipulation helps increase mobility but also reduces pain. Spinal manipulation can be used by chiropractors, physical therapists, and medical doctors to improve physical functioning and relieve lower back pain. The good news is that a physical therapist can do a spinal manipulation non-aggressively unlike what you see some chiropractors perform. This is a better and safer outcome for the patient.
How You Can Get Started With Lower Back Physical Therapy
Ready to see how one of our physical therapists can help you with your back pain?
You can call us directly at 239-223-0484 or click here to inquire about cost and appointment availability.
You can also click here to learn how we can help you with your lower back pain or sciatica, too.