Does Physical Therapy Really Help Lower Back Pain?

Physical therapy can be an effective way to reduce lower back pain depending on the underlying cause. Learn more about how physical therapists use two types of interventions: passive and active.

Does Physical Therapy Really Help Lower Back Pain?

After a bout of lower back pain that has lasted between two and six weeks, or if there are frequent recurrences of lower back pain, physical therapy is often recommended. Some spinal specialists even suggest physical therapy sooner, particularly if the pain is severe. Physical therapy can be an effective way to reduce lower back pain, depending on the underlying cause. It is important to be as active as possible when new back pain occurs, and early physical therapy may help.

However, physical therapy does not necessarily change overall long-term outcomes or prevent long-term disability related to back pain. Physical therapy is a great tool for managing back pain, whether it is new or chronic. The goal of physical therapy is to reduce low back pain and restore mobility. As long as patients actively participate in the program, many patients will find full or partial relief from their symptoms.

Physical therapy is often recommended for people who are at risk of developing chronic low back pain. If you are not getting beneficial results with physical therapy, the true source of your back pain may not have been diagnosed yet.Physical therapists use two types of interventions: passive physical therapy and active physical therapy. Passive physical therapy may include applying heat, ice packs, or electrical stimulation from a TENS unit. Active physical therapy may involve exercises such as Pilates, trunk stabilization exercises, and other exercises that can only work when the ligaments in the spine can withstand exercise activity and provide resistance for muscles to strengthen.Several studies have shown that a good relationship between patient and physical therapist can improve low back pain outcomes.

The researchers did not intend to say that physical therapy did not work better than educational guidelines, but rather they were trying to show that physical therapy did provide benefits to many patients. If back pain is still severe or even worse, physical therapy may take longer or may be recommended after surgery.What physical therapy and yoga cannot achieve is to return the vertebrae to their natural positions to eliminate pressure on the spinal nerves. It's also important to note that you and your therapist may change treatment goals if you don't see any progress. In this video, prolotherapist Danielle Matias, MMS, PA-C analyzes a fairly common situation in patients who are diagnosed with sacroiliac joint dysfunction, but whose MRI is normal, and they try physical therapy, but it doesn't solve the problem.And physical therapy won't be harmful, said Anthony Delitto, professor and professor of physical therapy at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.

If you're generally in good physical health with a regular exercise routine and don't feel pain that extends to your legs, your lower back pain is likely to go away without treatment.You can find physical therapists who have these and other credentials using Find a PT, the online tool created by the American Physical Therapy Association to help you search for physical therapists with specific clinical experience in your geographic area. You can talk to your therapist to increase or decrease the number of sessions depending on symptoms.Early physical therapy produced a modest improvement in the functional capacity of study participants after three months, compared to the absence of physical therapy.