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Physical Therapy Benefits for Back Pain

Benefits of back pain exercise and physical therapy After an episode of low back pain has lasted between two and six weeks, or if there are frequent recurrences of low back pain, it is reasonable to consider back pain exercises and physical therapy for back treatment.

(Some spine specialists consider back exercise and physical therapy sooner, particularly if the pain is severe.)

In general, the goals of back pain exercises and physical therapy are to decrease back pain, increase function, and provide education on a maintenance program to prevent further recurrences.

Therapy for Sports Injuries

Sports injuries affect a number of athletes, both men and women alike. Pain is involved in all injuries that occur while playing games. Studies at the U.S Naval Academy have revealed that sports injuries most commonly occur due to repetitive and excessive use of muscles and bones.

An athlete who is suffering from a sports injury can be effectively treated using physical therapy, one of the effective methods that facilitate speedy recovery and helps athletes to quickly return to sports. Activities like football, baseball, tennis, swimming, and weight training are likely to cause injuries. With physical therapy, various sports injuries including rotator cuff tendonitis, shoulder injuries, jumping/cutting/landing injuries, running injuries, fractures, head injuries, neck injuries and tennis injuries can be treated.

Physical therapy is a hands-on treatment procedure used for treating musculoskeletal dysfunction. This effective treatment plan works well to maintain and enhance fitness, health and quality of life. The physical therapy treatment program makes the body strong and increases the blood flow to the affected areas. This is ideal to promote your healing process.

Physical therapy treatment for sport injuries includes a variety of modalities such as hot packs, cold packs, electrical stimulation and ultrasound to heal the injured tissue. In addition, medical massage is incorporated in the physical therapy treatment plan to increase overall circulation and achieve the best possible health. In a healthy lifestyle, the physical therapy treatment administered for sports injuries helps to:

• Decrease pain
• Increase function by restoring your physical abilities
• Prevent further injuries

The physical therapists who know to manage pain through physical therapy sessions will treat the patients for about 30 minutes. Depending on the severity of the injury, the physical therapy treatment program varies.

Physical therapy treatment for sports injuries is the best option for athletes who wish to return to their normal sports activities soon. Physical therapists can also give tips on preventing further injuries.

Stroke Recovery

Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability in the United States.

Rehabilitation is an important part of recovering from a stroke. Through rehabilitation, you relearn or regain basic skills such as speaking, eating, dressing, and walking. The goal is to improve function so that you become as independent as possible.

Rehabilitation actually starts in the hospital as soon as possible after the stroke. In patients who are stable, rehabilitation may begin within two days after the stroke has occurred, and should be continued as necessary after leaving the hospital.

Current statistics indicate that there are over 4 million people in the United States who have survived a stroke or brain attack and are living with the after-effects. These numbers do not reflect the scope of the problem and do not count the millions of husbands, wives and children who live with and care for stroke survivors and who are, because of their own altered lifestyle, greatly affected by stroke.

The very word "stroke" indicates that no one is ever prepared for this sudden, often catastrophic event. Stroke survivors and their families can find workable solutions to most difficult situations by approaching every problem with patience, ingenuity, perseverance and creativity.

Carpal Tunnel

Sometimes, physical therapy or special hand exercises relieve mild to moderate symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. These therapies include:

* Gliding exercises. Moving your fingers in a specified pattern of exercises may help your tendons and nerves glide more smoothly through your carpal tunnel. While there's some evidence that gliding exercises can help relieve carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms when used alone, these exercises appear to work better in combination with other treatments — such as splinting.

* Contrast baths. Alternating between warm water and cold water soaks helps reduce carpal tunnel symptoms in some people.

* Ultrasound. Deep, pulsed ultrasound directed at the carpal tunnel can reduce pain and numbness, and improve hand strength. Continuous superficial ultrasound doesn't help.

* Traction. Some people obtain relief from carpal tunnel symptoms by using a hand traction device, called C-Trac. You might try this device, which can be purchased for home use, if other conservative treatment options have failed.

Balance and Fall Prevention

Falls put you at risk of serious injury. Prevent falls with these fall-prevention measures. The odds of falling each year after age 65 in the United States are about one in three. Fortunately, most of these falls aren't serious. Still, falls are the leading cause of injury and injury-related death among older adults. You're more likely to fall as you get older because of common, age-related physical changes and medical conditions — and the medications you take to treat such conditions.

You needn't let the fear of falling rule your life. Many falls and fall-related injuries are preventable with fall-prevention measures.Here's a look at six fall-prevention approaches that can help you avoid falls.

Fall-prevention step 1: Make an appointment with your doctor

Begin your fall-prevention plan by making an appointment with your doctor. You and your doctor can take a comprehensive look at your environment, your health and your medications to identify situations when you're vulnerable to falling. In order to devise a fall-prevention plan, your doctor will want to know:

* What medications are you taking? Include all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you take, along with the dosages. Or bring them all with you. Your doctor can review your medications for side effects and interactions that may increase your risk of falling. To help with fall prevention, he or she may decide to wean you off certain medications, especially those used to treat anxiety and insomnia.

* Have you fallen before? Write down the details, including when, where and how you fell. Be prepared to discuss instances when you almost fell but managed to grab hold of something just in time or were caught by someone.

* Could your health conditions cause a fall? Your doctor likely wants to know about eye and ear disorders that may increase your risk of falls. Be prepared to discuss these and how comfortable you are walking — describe any dizziness, joint pain, numbness or shortness of breath that affects your walk. Your doctor may then evaluate your muscle strength, balance and walking style (gait).

Fall-prevention step 2: Keep moving

If you aren't already getting regular physical activity, consider starting a general exercise program as part of your fall-prevention plan. Consider activities such as walking, water workouts or tai chi — a gentle exercise that involves slow and graceful dance-like movements. Such activities reduce your risk of falls by improving your strength, balance, coordination and flexibility. Be sure to get your doctor's OK first.

If you avoid exercise because you're afraid it will make a fall more likely, tell your doctor. He or she may recommend carefully monitored exercise programs or give you a referral to a physical therapist who can devise a custom exercise program aimed at improving your balance, muscle strength and gait. To improve your flexibility, the physical therapist may use techniques such as electrical stimulation, massage or ultrasound. If you have inner ear problems that affect your balance, balance retraining exercises (vestibular rehabilitation) may help.

These involve specific head and body movements to correct loss of balance.

Fall-prevention step 3: Wear sensible shoes

Consider changing your footwear as part of your fall-prevention plan. High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble and fall. So can walking in your stocking feet. Instead:

* Have your feet measured each time you buy shoes, since your size can change.
* Buy properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles.
* Avoid shoes with extra-thick soles.
* Choose lace-up shoes instead of slip-ons, and keep the laces tied.
* Select footwear with fabric fasteners if you have trouble tying laces.
* Shop in the men's department if you're a woman who can't find wide enough shoes. If bending over to put on your shoes puts you off balance, consider a long shoehorn that helps you slip your shoes on without bending over.

Fall-prevention step 4: Remove home hazards

As part of your fall-prevention measures, take a look around you — your living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, hallways and stairways may be filled with booby traps. Clutter can get in your way, but so can the decorative accents you add to your home. To make your home safer, you might try these tips:

* Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.
* Move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands from high-traffic areas.
* Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing.
* Repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting right away.
* Store clothing, dishes, food and other household necessities within easy reach.
* Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease or food.
* Use nonskid floor wax.
* Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower.

Fall-prevention step 5: Light up your living space

As you get older, less light reaches the back of your eyes where you sense color and motion. So keep your home brightly lit with 100-watt bulbs or higher to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see. Don't use bulbs that exceed the wattage rating on lamps and lighting fixtures, however, since this can present a fire hazard. Also:

* Place a lamp near your bed and within reach so that you can use it if you get up at night.
* Make clear paths to light switches that aren't near room entrances. Consider installing glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches.
* Place night lights in your bedroom, bathroom and hallways.
* Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs. This might require installing switches at the top and bottom of stairs.
* Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.

Fall-prevention step 6: Use assistive devices

Your doctor might recommend using a cane or walker to keep you steady. Other assistive devices can help, too. All sorts of gadgets have been invented to make everyday tasks easier. Some you might consider:

* Grab bars mounted inside and just outside your shower or bathtub.
* A raised toilet seat or one with armrests to stabilize yourself.
* A sturdy plastic seat placed in your shower or tub so that you can sit down if you need to. Buy a hand-held shower nozzle so that you can shower sitting down.
* Handrails on both sides of stairways.
* Nonslip treads on bare-wood steps.

Ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist who can help you devise other ways to prevent falls in your home. Some solutions are easily installed and relatively inexpensive. Others may require professional help and more of an investment. If you plan on staying in your home for many more years, an investment in safety and fall prevention now may make that possible.

Therapeutic Exercise

Therapeutic exercise is a physical therapy intervention encompassing a broad range of activities designed to restore or improve musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary and/or neurologic function.


Some form of therapeutic exercise is indicated in almost every physical therapy case. Physical therapists may assist clients in designing therapeutic exercise programs to prevent injury or secondary impairments. In addition, physical therapists use therapeutic exercise as one component of patient care to improve functional ability and general well-being in those who are experiencing limitations or disability due to a disease, disorder, trauma, or surgery.


Therapeutic exercise can be an intervention used in a physical therapy plan of care or as part of a recommendation in client consultation. The physical therapist uses a thorough examination including subjective and objective data to assess each patient's specific needs. It is clear that an 80-year-old woman with osteoporosis with a history of fractures is going to require a much different program from a 20-year-old athlete who wants to return to sports following a knee injury.

The main goal of therapeutic exercise is to improve or maintain functional ability, including daily living skills, through the application of careful and gradual forces to the body. Often, this overall goal is achieved through the objectives of developing, improving, restoring or maintaining one or more of the following: strength, endurance, flexibility, stability, coordination and/or balance.

Neck Pain

Most people will experience neck pain at some point in their lives. Neck pain can be acute, meaning it lasts a few hours to a few weeks, or it can be chronic. Neck pain that lasts several weeks or longer is considered chronic neck pain.

Most causes of neck pain aren't serious. Poor posture at work, such as leaning into your computer, and during hobbies, such as hunching over your workbench, are common causes of neck pain.

But sometimes neck pain can signify something more serious. If your neck pain is so severe that you can't touch your chin to your chest despite a few days of self-care, seek immediate medical attention.

Neck pain takes many forms. Signs and symptoms of neck pain may include:

* Pain in your neck that may feel sharp or dull
* Stiffness in your neck
* Difficulty going about your daily tasks because of pain or stiffness in your neck
* Shoulder pain in addition to neck pain, in some cases
* Back pain in addition to neck pain, in some cases
Neck pain can result from several causes, including:

* Muscle strains. Overuse, such as too much time spent hunched over a steering wheel, often triggers muscle strains. Neck muscles, particularly those in the back of your neck, become fatigued and eventually strained. When you overuse your neck muscles repeatedly, chronic pain can develop. Even such minor things as reading in bed or gritting your teeth can strain neck muscles.
* Worn joints. Like the other joints in your body, your neck joints experience wear and tear with age, which can cause osteoarthritis in your neck. Neck (cervical) osteoarthritis can cause pain and stiffness in your neck.
* Disk disorders. As you age, the cushioning disks between your vertebrae become dry and stiff, narrowing the spaces in your spinal column where the nerves come out. The disks in your neck also can herniate. This means the inner gelatinous cartilage material of a disk protrudes through the disk's tougher cartilage covering. Neck pain may occur or nearby nerves can be irritated. Other tissues and bony growths (spurs) also can press on your nerves as they exit your spinal cord, causing pain.
* Injuries. Rear-end collisions often result in whiplash injuries, which occur when the head is jerked forward and back, stretching the soft tissues of the neck beyond their limits.

Deep Tissue Oscillation® (hivamat)

DEEP OSCILLATION® is a unique, patented treatment method. Its special structure allows you to create biologically effective oscillations in the treated tissue using electrostatic attraction and friction. In contrast to other therapies, these pleasant oscillations have a gentle and deep-acting effect on all tissue components (skin, connective tissue, subcutaneous fat, muscles, blood and lymph vessels).

The following physiological effects of Deep Oscillation® are clinically proven:

•Highly effective in reducing pain
•Effective in reabsorbing oedema
•Promotes wound healing
•Improves the trophicity
•Rubor reduction
•Improves the quality of the tissue

The pleasant therapy effect of DEEP OSCILLATION® is created beneath the hand applicator, which is moved in a circular motion above the tissue.

Myofascial Therapy

Myofascial (my-o-FASH-e-ul) release is a manual therapy technique often used in massage. The technique focuses on pain believed to arise from myofascial tissues — the tough membranes that wrap, connect and support your muscles.

Theoretically, myofascial pain differs from other types of pain because it originates in "trigger points," which are related to stiff, anchored areas within the myofascial tissue. The pain that a trigger point causes is often difficult to localize, though.

During myofascial release therapy, the therapist locates myofascial areas that feel stiff and fixed instead of elastic and movable under light manual pressure. These areas, though not always near what feels like the source of pain, are thought to restrict muscle and joint movements, which contributes to widespread muscle pain.

The focused manual pressure and stretching used in myofascial release therapy loosen up restricted movement, leading indirectly to reduced pain.

Many studies have found that massage, chiropractic manipulation and similar manual therapies work as well as other treatments for back pain. Few studies, however, have tested myofascial release therapy specifically, partly because the exact elements of myofascial release therapy vary from therapist to therapist.

If you've been told that myofascial release therapy may be helpful for your back pain, consult a therapist who has training in the technique.