When lower back pain is treated early with physical therapy, overall costs are lowered, according to a 2015 study. Physical therapy may involve manipulation, specially-designed exercises or stretches, as well as an educational component. Find out if physical therapy may be the best treatment for your pain by booking an appointment with Dr. Casey Walker and the team at R2 Medical Centers in Lowell, Indiana. Call or click today.
Several physical therapy modalities are used to treat lower back pain, but they can all be divided into two categories: passive and active. As you might guess, active therapies are generally stretches and exercises, and may include special equipment or even be aquatic.
Passive therapies include electric stimulation, use of an intersegmental traction table, and application of heat and ice. Sometimes active and passive therapies are combined.
A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, device sends an electrical current to electrodes that are placed on the painful area. Many devices have a handheld controller so that the patient can set the current to a comfortable level.
The current creates a tingling feeling and reduces the sensation of pain -- for some people. Individual patients have widely varying responses to electrical stimulation. After a thorough assessment, Dr. Walker and the team determine if TENS can relieve your pain.
An intersegmental traction table has rollers under the surface. When you lie on the table, the rollers move up and down your spine, creating passive motion, which gently stretches the joints between the vertebrae.
The stretching can improve mobility and circulation, and also relieve pressure on the discs between vertebrae. Happily, most patients find the rollers relaxing because it feels like a gentle massage.
Generally speaking, ice is for new injuries, while heat is for chronic aches and pains. However, there are many caveats: for example, it may be difficult to tell if you have pain caused by a trigger point -- a small knot or spasm in the muscle tissue -- or due to an injury.
Following your initial exam, Dr. Walker and the team determine whether heat or ice will be most effective for treating your pain. One thing that most experts agree on is that neither heat nor ice is effective under the wrong conditions. Heat can aggravate inflammation while ice can increase tension. Working with Dr. Walker and the team ensures you know which approach to use for your discomfort.