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Can Physiotherapy Treat Back Pain?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Saroj Rustgi 87% (50 ratings)
Physiotherapist, Gurgaon  •  45 years experience
Can Physiotherapy Treat Back Pain?

Back pain, whether it be localised or radiating, can be an impediment to a person’s daily life. Usually, most cases of back pain resolve by themselves within a few weeks. However, if pain persists, the first course of action that a doctor will suggest before considering surgical options is physiotherapy. Physiotherapy has been proven to be very effective in treating back pain, if diagnosed correctly and treatment started early on.

A typical physiotherapy routine has the following goals which are usually achieved in phases –

  1. Relieving back pain and reducing inflammation
  2. Restoring normal range of motion
  3. Restoring full function
  4. Preventing recurrence

Physiotherapy usually combines passive treatments, which help to relax the muscles with active exercises designed to build strength and prevent the pain from coming back. When performed in the correct combination routinely, these treatments can provide substantial relief from back pain and help patients return to a pain-free, normal daily life.

Passive Treatments

  1. Hot and cold treatments – Physiotherapists usually use an alternative routine of hot compressions and cold packs on the affected areas to help increase blood flow to the area and reduce any inflammation. This also helps remove any toxins which may have accumulated and relieve muscle spasms.
  2. Deep tissue massage – The use of pressure to relieve the tension build up in the muscles helps ease muscle spasms and relax the whole back region. Massages also help provide relief to any strain or sprain which may be causing discomfort and pain.
  3. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) – In this treatment, variable but safe amounts of electric current is used to stimulate the muscles. This decreases spasms and also increases the production of endorphins, which are naturally produced by the body to reduce pain sensations.

Active Treatments

  1. In physiotherapy, active treatments involve exercises that will improve body flexibility, allow a greater range of motion, build strength in the back muscles and also improve core stability, endurance and posture.
  2. The exercise routine is usually designed by the physiotherapist to meet the needs of individual patients, depending on various factors such as the diagnosis, lifestyle, medical history, and overall health.
  3. Exercises generally start with simple stretching and gradually move on to more difficult exercises. These exercises include dynamic stabilisation exercises, core strengthening exercises and aerobic conditioning. The different exercises are meant for different purposes.
  4. The physiotherapist will also teach the patient back exercises and posture control which form a part of ‘self-treatment’ that is meant to prevent a recurrence of the pain.

Physiotherapy thus can be an excellent option for the treatment of back pain. It is a natural, cost-effective, safe and efficient way of relieving pain and regaining control of the body’s muscles without needing to undergo evasive surgical procedures.

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