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Back pain is something that everyone has experienced. It affects people of all ages, of all incomes and from all walks of life. It’s the sixth most costly condition for adults in the United States. 

With all of this in mind, what kinds of remedies are there to help treat back pain—and is physical therapy really as helpful as people make it out to be?

To answer this question and more, we have to go back to the basics of back pain. 

Causes of Back Pain

There are two types of back pain: acute, which lasts under six weeks, and chronic, which lasts six weeks and longer. Both types can be caused by various things such as: 

  • Posture: If you have bad posture, it can cause strain in all areas of your back because your spine isn’t completely supported. 
  • Work Environment: If you sit at a desk all day, then you probably know exactly why this is on the list. Sitting hunched over or in an unsupportive chair can wreak havoc on your back. 
  • Bulging or Ruptured Disk: Disks are cushions between the vertebrae of your spine and if one of those starts to act up or slide out of place and hits a nerve, it can be very painful.
  • Ligament or Muscle Strain: If you lift a lot on a daily basis and not from the knees or do sudden, awkward movements, you can strain the muscles in your back, which can cause swelling and muscle spasms. 
  • Arthritis: Arthritis can affect the lower back and lead to the narrowing of the space around the spinal cord, causing discomfort.
  • Injury: As the saying goes, things happen, and any type of accident can lead to injuries to the back, especially ones to the spinal cord.

Symptoms of Back Pain

Your spine runs through your neck, down your back, all the way to the top of your buttocks, so back pain can be anywhere along there. The pain in different areas can feel completely different, and that’s OK. 

Some may experience a dull aching while others experience a sharp, concise, needle-like pain. A common symptom of back problems is the inability to stand with discomfort or the lack of mobility from the pain.

The Benefits of Physical Therapy

Many people are recommended to a physical therapist for their back pain if it has persisted for over six weeks, but that doesn’t mean that physical therapy can’t be beneficial before then. The goal of physical therapy is to ease pain and discomfort while also increasing function and decreasing the chance of a future incident. 

Physical therapy is so highly regarded because it works really well for all types of back pain from muscle strains to bulged disks. It saves people from invasive surgeries because it often works and has a very low chance of making things worse for the patient. 

There are two common types of physical therapy: active and passive. Examples of passive physical therapy include: 

  • Heat or ice packs (which can be done at home).
  • Muscle cupping.
  • Dry needling.
  • Ultrasounds.
  • Electrical stimulation.

Active physical therapy focuses on the movement of the muscle. Examples of active physical therapy include: 

  • Back stretches.
  • Strength exercises.
  • Low-impact cardio exercise.

You can help yourself while going through physical therapy by doing light, daily stretches for the whole body and trying to maintain a good posture. If you work at a desk all day, make sure you have a supportive chair and your laptop is at an optimal position for viewing

Schedule an Appointment Today

Here at South Orange Rehabilitation & Wellness, we take the time to get to know each of our patients and figure out what’s causing them the most problems. From back pain to full-on injuries, our specialists are here to care for you and get you back on your feet. 
Reach out and schedule an appointment with us today. We can’t wait to meet you.