Your recovery from spine pain or injury can be improved by learning new ways to strengthen your spine and prevent future problems. A physical therapist can teach you ways to help reduce your pain now and form new habits to keep your spine healthy.
Learn about spinal rehabilitation including
- what happens on your first visit to a physical therapist
- what treatments are used to control pain and symptoms
- how exercise helps you recover
- how therapy can train you to do your activities safely
Your physical therapist (PT) will gather information about your spine condition. You may be asked questions about when it started, where you hurt, and how your symptoms affect your day-to-day activities. This helps your PT to begin zeroing in on the source of your problem and to know what will be needed to help relieve it.
After reviewing your answers, your therapist will do an exam that may include some or all of the following checks.
- Posture - Imbalances in the position of your spine can put pressure on sore joints, nerves, and muscles. Improving your posture can oftentimes make a big difference in easing pain.
- Range of motion (ROM) - Measurements are taken of how far you can move in different directions. Your ROM is recorded to compare how much improvement you are making with treatment.
- Nerve Tests - Your PT may do checks of reflexes, sensation, and strength. The results can help determine which area of the spine is causing problems and the types of treatment that will be best for you.
- Manual Exam - Your PT will carefully move your spine in different positions to make sure that the joints are moving smoothly at each level. Muscle and soft tissue flexibility is also tested.
- Ergonomics - Ergonomics involves where and how you do your work or hobby activities. By understanding your ergonomics, your PT can begin to learn if the way you do your activities is making your condition worse. Sometimes even simple corrections of your hobby or workstation can make a big difference in easing spine problems.
- Palpation - Palpation involves feeling the soft tissues around your spine. This is used to check the skin for changes in temperature or texture, which could tell if you have inflammation or nerve irritation. Palpation also checks whether there are tender points or spasms in the muscles near the spine.
Your therapist will evaluate your answers and your exam results to determine the best way to help you. Your therapist will then write a plan of care, which lists the treatments to be used and the goals that you and your therapist decide on to do your daily activities safely and with the least amount of discomfort. The plan also includes a prognosis, which is your therapist's idea of how well the treatments will work and how long you'll need therapy in order to get the most benefit.
The main goal of therapy is to make sure you have ways to take care of future spine pain or problems. You'll be shown ways to help control pain or symptoms if they don't go completely away and if they return in the future. Because you've experienced spine pain, there is a possibility you may have soreness in the future. You may be encouraged to continue with some of the exercises to help keep your spine healthy over time.