What can be done to relieve my symptoms?
Whenever possible, it is preferable to use treatments other than surgery. The first goal of these nonsurgical treatments is to ease your pain and other symptoms.
In cases of severe pain, your Physical Therapist at Yosemite Physical Therapy may suggest a short period of bed rest, usually no more than two days. Lying on your back can take pressure off sore discs and nerves. Our Physical Therapists usually advise against strict bed rest and prefer that patients do ordinary activities using pain to gauge how much is too much.
A back support belt is sometimes recommended when back pain first strikes. It can help provide support and lower the pressure inside a problem disc. Yosemite Physical Therapy patients recovering from back pain are encouraged to gradually discontinue wearing the support belt over a period of two to four days. Otherwise, back muscles begin to rely on the belt and start to shrink (atrophy).
Ensure that you consult with your doctor or pharmacist regarding the use of pain relief or anti-inflammatory medication. Many different types of medications are typically prescribed to help gain control of the symptoms of low back pain. There is no medication that will cure low back pain. Medications are prescribed to help with sleep disturbances and to help control pain, inflammation, and muscle spasm.
Physical Therapy and Exercise
In addition to other nonsurgical treatments, patients with back pain often work with a Physical Therapist. Physical Therapy treatments focus on relieving pain, improving back movement, and fostering healthy posture. Our Physical Therapist can design a rehabilitation program to address a particular condition and to help you prevent future problems. There is a great deal of scientific evidence that exercise and increased overall fitness reduce the risk of developing back pain and can improve the symptoms of back pain once it begins.
Although the time required for rehabilitation varies among patients, you can expect to continue therapy for two to four months for chronic back problems. Our treatments are designed to ease pain and to improve your mobility, strength, posture, and function. Your Physical Therapist at Yosemite Physical Therapy will also teach you how to control your symptoms and how to protect your spine for the years ahead.
At first, our Physical Therapist may apply various forms of treatment to address your symptoms. These are especially helpful in the early weeks to improve your comfort so you can get back to your normal activities. We’ll show you ways to position your spine for maximum comfort while you move, recline, or sleep. To help calm pain and muscle spasm, your Physical Therapist in Merced & Atwater may apply heat or ice packs, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound.
If you have severe back pain, our Physical Therapist may work with you in a pool. Physical Therapy done in water puts less stress on your low back, and the buoyancy allows you to move easier during exercise.
You may be tempted to limit your activity because of your back pain. However, as a result of pain and inactivity, your muscles may become weak and deconditioned, and your back won't function optimally. Physical Therapists at Yosemite Physical Therapy in Merced & Atwater use active rehabilitation to prevent the harmful effects of deconditioning. With this active approach, you'll be shown how to lift and move safely. And you'll be shown how to strengthen your back muscles. In addition, aerobic exercises are used to improve your general fitness and endurance.
Aerobic exercises may include walking on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike, or swimming. These activities can relieve the stress of low back pain, and they can cause your body to release endorphins into the blood stream. Endorphins are your body's own natural painkillers.
An active approach to Physical Therapy can help you attain better muscle function, so you can get your activities done easier. Active rehabilitation speeds recovery, reducing the possibility that back pain will become a chronic problem. Activity helps you resume your normal lifestyle as swiftly as possible. Though you'll be cautioned about trying to do too much, too quickly, you'll be guided toward a return to your usual activities. This approach gives you a greater sense of control. You'll take an active role in learning how to care for your back pain. Yosemite Physical Therapy treatment sessions focus on reassuring you that getting back to work and other normal activities swiftly won't cause you harm and can actually help you get better faster.
When needed, your Physical Therapist in Merced & Atwater will encourage you to take certain actions to improve your spine health. For example, if you smoke, you'll be encouraged to get help to quit. Because of the limited blood supply in the tissues of the low back, smoking speeds the degenerative process and impairs healing. If you're out of shape, you'll be encouraged to get fit. This strategy makes it less likely that back pain or injury will strike again in the future.
Our Physical Therapist will show you how to keep your spine safe during routine activities. You'll learn about healthy posture and how posture relates to the future health of your spine. And you'll learn about body mechanics, how the body moves and functions during activity. Your Yosemite Physical Therapy Physical Therapist will also teach safe body mechanics to help you protect your low back as you go about your day. This includes the use of safe positions and movements while lifting and carrying, standing and walking, and performing work duties.
As you recover, our Physical Therapist will gradually advance your treatment in a series of strengthening exercises for the abdominal and low back muscles. Working these core muscles can help you begin moving easier and lessens the chances of future pain and problems.
As our rehabilitation program evolves, you will progress with more challenging exercises. The goal is to safely advance your strength and function.
Your Physical Therapist will work closely with your doctor and employer to help you get back on the job as quickly as reasonably possible. You may be required to do lighter duties at first, but as soon as you are able, you'll begin doing your normal work activities. We can also do a work assessment to make sure you'll be safe to do your job. Our Physical Therapist may suggest changes that could help you work safely, with less chance of re-injuring your back.
Rehabilitation after surgery is much more complex. Depending on what operation you've had, you may leave the hospital shortly after surgery. Some procedures, such as fusion surgery, require that you stay in the hospital for a few days.
During recovery from surgery, you should follow your surgeon's instructions about wearing a back brace or soft lumbar support belt. You should be cautious about overdoing activities in the first few weeks after surgery.
You may need Physical Therapy outside of the hospital. If you had a lumbar fusion, your surgeon may have you wait six weeks to three months before starting Physical Therapy. Although the time required for recovery varies, once you start Physical Therapy, you'll usually go for one to three months, depending on your progress and the type of surgery you had.
When you first visit Yosemite Physical Therapy after surgery, our Physical Therapist may use treatments such as heat or ice, electrical stimulation, massage, and ultrasound to help calm pain and muscle spasm. Pool therapy is often helpful after lumbar surgery.
We will use exercises are used to improve flexibility in your trunk and lower limbs. Strengthening for your abdominal and low back muscles is started. Our Physical Therapist will instruct you in safe ways to sleep, sit, lift, and carry. And you’ll be given ideas on how to do your work activities safely.
Ideally, you'll be able to go back to your previous activities. However, you may need to modify your activities to avoid future problems.
When treatment is well under way, regular visits to Yosemite Physical Therapy will end. Although we will continue to be a resource, you'll be in charge of doing your exercises as part of an ongoing home program.
Yosemite Physical Therapy provides services for Physical Therapy in Merced & Atwater.