For a patient with back pain,  simple activities like sitting, standing and walking can be difficult. Back pain symptoms can range in intensity from a slight “tight feeling” in the back to severe back and/or leg pain. Physical therapy  offers many treatment options for patients with back pain. When pain levels are high, patients can be apprehensive about physical therapy and exercise, but a physical therapist can develop a plan to help patients overcome that apprehension.
Many of my patients are surprised to learn that small modifications to their normal patterns of movement can quickly reduce their symptoms. A therapist will work one-on-on with the patient and offer suggestions of how to sit and stand in ways that will decrease the pain. The also will consider exercises to help to reduce pain. Each patient is different and there isn’t one exercise or position that will work for all types of back pain. A skilled therapist, along with a motivated patient, can develop a game plan for attacking the back pain.
In addition to posture training and exercises, there are other tools a therapist can use to decrease symptoms. Sometimes pain will lessen with the application of ice or moist heat. A therapist may recommend TENS, or electrical stimulation. These treatments help to stimulate nerves to help block the pain stimulus. Ultrasound may be selected to aid in tissue healing. Soft tissue mobilizations and manipulations are another treatment option.
Whatever treatment is recommended, the goal of physical therapy  is to reduce the symptoms and restore patients to their previous level of function. Back pain  can be a complex and debilitating problem. A physical therapist can help guide a patient through it and avoid surgery.