Lower back strains and sprains are common results of slip and fall accidents and car accidents. Doctors often refer patients to physical therapists for at least four weeks of therapy to help manage the pain and strengthen the back before considering more aggressive treatments such as back surgery or chronic pain therapies.
Two Types of Therapy a Person Might Receive
Physical therapy can help a person experiencing a lower back injury reduce his pain and increase mobility in the lower back. Physical therapy sessions can also teach you strategies to help deal with future flare-ups of any back problems. The following is a brief overview of the two main types of physical therapy:
Passive physical therapy.
This can include applying heat or ice to the injured area, massage, and ultrasound to help ease the pain. Passive physical therapy tends to only ease the pain while it is being utilized, rather than helping to reduce the pain on a long-term basis. However, it can be helpful to use these therapies before exercising to stretch the muscles or afterwards to soothe them.
Active physical therapy.
This is the major focus of lower back pain treatment and involves specific exercises and stretching. While a person may find it painful at the beginning of therapy, he will hopefully find that this helps strengthen the lower back muscles and reduce the pain on a long-term basis.
Stretching helps the muscles to maintain a better range of motion and can provide relief from the shrinking of the muscles that occurs when the muscles aren’t in use after suffering a back sprain or strain. A physical therapist will use a variety of dynamic stabilization exercises, which can include the use of exercise balls, balancing machines, and specific exercises. For a person to experience long-term results, it is important that he continue the exercise program developed by his physical therapist.
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