About 16 million adults in the United States suffer from chronic or persistent back pain, dealing with symptoms that take a significant toll on their activities, their mobility, and their quality of life. Back pain can be especially difficult to treat — and challenging to live with — because you use your back for many activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and even sitting.
Fortunately, physical therapy has proven very effective in helping women and men manage back pain and finally find relief for their symptoms. Better still, it does it without surgery and without relying on increasing doses of medications.
Dedicated to comprehensive pain management therapies, Victor Mendoza, MD, and the team at Vulcan Pain Management helps patients in Birmingham, Alabama, relieve chronic lower back pain with an array of nonsurgical options, including physical therapy. If you have chronic lower back pain, here are seven ways physical therapy could help.
1. Relieves nerve irritation
Many types of lower back pain, including chronic sciatica, involve the nerves that travel through your spine. Changes in your discs or spine joints, years of wear and tear on your back, and age-related changes in the structure of your spine can all result in the compression of nerves as they exit the spine in your lower back.
Physical therapy uses exercises that help relieve nerve compression and irritation. Special stretching techniques and other exercises help maintain disc alignment and keep your spine joints functioning normally, so nerves can function as they’re supposed to.
2. It works well with other therapies
Physical therapy works very well for many types of back pain. But many people with chronic symptoms find their therapy works well in conjunction with other nonsurgical pain management treatments, like laser therapy, nerve blocks, and anti-inflammatory medicines.
Dr. Mendoza decides on the best combination of therapies following your initial evaluation. Ongoing visits allow him to adjust that combination to keep your symptoms at bay.
3. It helps reduce the need for medication
Medication can be very effective for managing pain, but it has some significant downsides. First, some pain medications can be addictive or simply stop being effective. Other medicines cause additional side effects, like gastrointestinal upset, constipation, or issues with sleeping.
Physical therapy uses various techniques that help patients reduce their need for pain medicine or avoid those medications entirely. Plus, unlike medication that can only be adjusted through increasing doses, physical therapy can be fine-tuned in many ways for optimal symptom relief.
4. It increases strength and flexibility
Many people with chronic pain find their mobility limited, so they tend to be less active. Over time, that can lead to increased pain and stiffness and loss of muscle tone and strength. Physical therapy exercises help restore mobility through various exercises aimed at increasing strength and flexibility in your back and surrounding areas.
5. It helps prevent future injury
Physical therapy doesn’t just relieve pain now. By helping improve your strength, flexibility, balance, and posture, your therapy plan can help you avoid future accidents, including falls. If you’re an athlete or you have a physically demanding job, your therapist can design your activities to help you stay healthy during those activities, too.
6. It could reduce the need for surgery
While it’s not guaranteed, by helping your body heal naturally, physical therapy could reduce the need for surgery in the future. Some underlying spine injuries respond best to a surgical approach. But many people with chronic back pain can avoid or delay surgery through a regular plan of physical therapy adjusted to their evolving needs.
7. It’s patient-centered and custom-tailored
How can physical therapy offer so many benefits? Because it’s entirely customizable, every aspect of your therapy plan will be tailored to your needs — your symptoms, your medical history, your lifestyle, and other factors. Regular visits with your physical therapist and your doctor ensure your therapy plan is always focused on your needs, your goals, and yrecovery.
To learn more about physical therapy and other nonsurgical pain treatments at our practice, call 205-258-7246 or book an appointment online at Vulcan Pain Management today.