Physical Therapy Interventions

Specific Physical Therapy interventions for neck and back pain include therapeutic exercise (on mats, on balls, in the water, etc.), manual techniques (soft tissue massage to help improve stretching or gentle joint mobilization to help improve flexibility), training in proper body mechanics and posture, and patient education regarding ergonomics at work or in the home. (Note: ergonomics is adapting the environment to address a specific body’s needs; for example, changing the set up of a work station to help employ better body mechanics with computer use.)

The Treatment of Arthritis

Conservative Treatment For Your Arthritis Chronic Pain. The chronic pain associated with arthritis can very seriously affect your quality of life. If left untreated, it can also lead to physiological problems such as muscle breakdown or weakness as well as psychological difficulties such as anxiety and depression.

Physical Therapy and Exercise

In addition to medications, many people with arthritis can find relief from physical therapy and exercise. Physical therapy is a treatment method that focuses on pain relief, healing, restoring function and movement, improving body mechanics, as well as overall fitness and wellness.

Your doctor will prescribe physical therapy as part of your treatment plan and will refer you to a physical therapist. Physical therapists are rehabilitation professionals trained in the variety of exercises and treatment options that are appropriate for arthritis sufferers. Your therapist will work closely with your doctor and you to develop an exercise regimen specifically for you.

Exercising can help arthritis sufferers in many ways. Exercise reduces joint pain and stiffness and increases flexibility, muscle strength and endurance. It also helps with weight reduction, which is important since extra weight can place too much pressure on joints.

Types of Exercise

Generally there are 3 types of exercises that are appropriate for people with arthritis:

Range-of-motion exercises. These exercises should be done daily to help maintain normal joint movement, relieve stiffness and increase flexibility. Range-of-motion exercises for the spine may include bending forward, back and to each side.

Strengthening exercises. These exercises can also be done every day (unless you have severe pain) to help increase muscle strength. Strong muscles help support and protect joints affected by arthritis. Your therapist will instruct you on proper ways to lift and flex during these exercises.

Endurance or aerobic exercises. These exercises can be done three times a week for 20-30 minutes. They improve cardiovascular fitness, help control weight and improve overall function. Examples include walking and bike riding.

Other Therapies

In addition to therapeutic exercise, your therapist may use other treatments such as:
Heat therapy -warm towels or heat packs are placed on the spine to relieve pain by increasing blood flow and relaxing tissues.

Cold therapy – ice packs or ice massage applied to painful areas of the spine to reduce swelling and pain.

TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) – a type of therapy in which electrodes are applied to the back and a mild electrical current is sent to specific nerves.

Ultrasonic therapy to reduce swelling & Pain.

Electrical Stimulation to activate the muscles & improve strength.

Many people continue their exercise programs even after their prescribed physical therapy is finished. Your therapist will instruct you on the proper ways to do your exercises at home and give you tips on how to continue your treatment on your own

Types of Conditions that Physical Therapy Can Help

Physical Therapy can help acute and chronic neck and back pain resulting from a variety of diagnoses. Types of conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Neck and lumbar sprains and strains
  • Degenerative disk and joint disease of the spine
  • Bulging or slipped disks
  • Stenosis
  • Myofascial pain of the back or neck
  • Chronic headaches
  • TMJ dysfunction

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