When you have chronic back pain that impacts your ability to do your job, care for yourself and your family and perform routine tasks around the house, you may feel frustrated or stuck, wondering what you can do in order to find any relief for your symptoms. Some people turn to back surgery, which is an invasive procedure, requires a hospital stay and extensive rehabilitation and is not always successful. Surgery can also have unintended consequences, and sometimes those effects are worse than what you started with. Many people find that the pain relief effects from physical therapy are equal to the benefits of surgery but without the risks of a surgical procedure. Consider these four reasons why therapeutic care could be as good as or better than surgery for your back.
Strengthen Your Body
With physical therapy, you work every day to strengthen your body. There is no down time with the therapeutic process. You will come in for your appointments to measure your improvement and to learn new strengthening exercises. With a surgical procedure, there is an extended recovery period during which the patient is advised to rest and avoid physical activity. The extended rest period causes the body to lose strength, while therapy builds strength.
Restore Your Range of Motion
Physical therapists help you to restore your range of motion. At each appointment, your range of movement will be accurately measured. This allows you to see your improvement over time. Restoring your mobility enhances your quality of life and allows you to get back to doing what you want and need to do.
Less Pain and Stiffness
In the immediate aftermath of surgery, many people report an increase in pain at the incision site and the surrounding area. With therapy, this does not happen. Regular appointments with the physical therapist two or more times per week and practice of the exercises at home on a daily basis will help you with pain management. By gently stretching and moving your body in ways that use proper posture and ergonomics, you will fee less stiff. When compared to back surgery, receiving regular therapy provides you with these key means of pain reduction:
- Restores proper alignment of the spine, reducing excessive pressure on nerve roots
- Reduces soft tissue inflammation through stretches, massage and ultrasound
- Relieves pain non-invasively with TENS, ultrasound, heat, ice and massage
Learn Proper Posture and Ergonomics
One of the longest lasting effects of receiving care from a physical therapist for back pain is that you will learn proper posture for performing a variety of tasks. The therapist will teach you how to move your body in a way that will not put excessive pressure on your spine or nerve roots. You will also learn how to move in a way that causes less wear and tear on your joints, which is especially helpful if you have spinal stenosis
, degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis in your lower back or hips.