Black Hills Neurosurgery & Spine works closely with PROMOTION PHYSICAL THERAPY to help patients return to activity in the best way possible.
When your back is hurting, the last thing you want to do is exercise, but in most cases, gentle exercise is exactly what you need to relieve your pain. The best way to treat back pain is to stay active. Inactivity makes rehabilitation difficult.
Passive treatments, such as bed rest and over-the-counter pain relievers, can temporarily relieve pain. In the long run, however, you will need to strengthen the back and make it more flexible to recover from an injury or strain.
Before beginning any exercises, it is wise to have a spine specialist examine and evaluate you and determine the cause of your pain. Many people incorrectly assume that severe pain is an indication of a ruptured disc. Localized, excruciating pain is usually the result of a muscle strain, not a ruptured disc. A herniated disc will radiate pain down into your leg, past your knee. Home remedies are effective when used properly, but do not diagnose yourself - visit a spine specialist first.
Why does exercise work?
The back is composed of vertebrae which are separated by soft discs that act as shock absorbers. These discs resemble jelly donuts in that they have a jelly-like center. In some cases the wall of the disc may rupture, allowing the center of the disc to herniate outward, which in turn causes painful pressure on the nearby nerves that branch off from the spinal cord.
There are specific, special extension exercises that cause the back to arch backward compress the back side of the disc. The compression creates a vacuum toward the front of the disc, sucking the herniation inward and relieving pressure on the adjacent nerve root. The herniation is not "fixed" but the pain is usually decreased.
When exercising, do not hold your breath. Just breathe normally. When stretching, move smoothly and slowly, rather than bouncing or jerking. Never do any exercise to the point that it causes pain. Back exercises can be done several times during the day. Many exercises are easy to perform and can even be done standing or sitting at a desk. If your job requires you to sit at a desk for long periods of time, try to take a break every hour. Stand up, walk around, and do some stretching to relieve your back muscles. For more information on how the back works, visit the anatomy lesson. You can visit our exercise library to view specific examples of back exercises.
Learn more about home remedies and physical therapy by reading the free Home Remedy Book provided by Black Hills Neurosurgery & Spine.
Physical Therapy FAQs
How is physical therapy used in the nonsurgical treatment of back and neck pain?
Pain: Pain will cause spasms in the muscles surrounding the area. These spasms create additional pain and stress, which perpetuate the original pain in a cycle of events that must be broken. To break this "pain-spasm cycle" physical agents such as heat, cold, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound, are used. Once the cycle has been interrupted, more active therapy can be implemented. Pain reduction is an important component of physical therapy.
Loss of mobility: The underlying cause of the original pain can vary. Our physical therapists identify the tissue causing the restricted motion and "mobilize" (stretch) the tissues involved. Our therapists also teach patients how to mobilize themselves at home as well.
Loss of strength: Many back and neck problems have weakness in specific muscle groups as an underlying factor. These muscles must be addressed in order to gain normal movement and support to the region, as well as preventing future problems from occurring. For example, 50% of the support for the lumbar spine comes by way of the abdominal muscles. Lack of strength reduces this support and increases the risk for injury.
Muscle strength may also be lost in the arms or legs as a result of nerve root compression at the spine. After the nerve root compression is addressed, strength must be restored to the muscles involved. Again, your therapist works with you developing an exercise program tailored to your specific needs.
How do the therapists at PROMOTION PHYSICAL THERAPY work with my surgeon at Black Hills Neurosurgery & Spine?
What is the difference between physical therapy and chiropractic treatment?
Why is it important to undergo therapy after spinal surgery?
Do I need a prescription from my doctor in order to see a PT at PROMOTION PHYSICAL THERAPY?
How do I know when it is safe to return to work after an injury or after surgery?
Does insurance cover physical therapy services?
These stretches and exercises can relieve pain symptoms, strengthen the back and neck, and increase flexibility and resistence to future strain. Learn more.
Learn what causes your back or neck pain with medical illustrations and narrated animations. Click here.
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