Physical therapy, unlike pain medications that mask the problem temporarily, seeks to identify and fix the underlying cause of discomfort.
Your physical therapist will identify the source of your discomfort and work with you on improving movement habits to reduce symptoms. They may also suggest exercises designed to strengthen weak muscles.
Physical therapy exercises are designed to strengthen your muscles and reduce pain while increasing mobility. You can do these exercises using exercise machines or resistance bands, or utilize your own body weight (squats, lunges and pushups).
Strengthening exercises are stretches that target specific muscle groups, such as the back muscles, abdominal muscles, hips and legs. For best results, perform these exercises at the same time each day for a consistent program.
Low back stretches (hyperextensions) can be done on a machine or by lying on your stomach and slowly raising your chest off the ground. These exercises help stabilize and strengthen lower back muscles, relieving stress from discs and joints in your spine.
Patients suffering from lower back pain often need to maintain a physical therapy program of stretching, dynamic stabilization exercises and core strengthening exercises. They can also perform simple aerobic exercises to reduce pressure on their spine.
If you experience back or neck pain, a physical therapist may suggest flexibility exercises. These can help loosen tightness in the shoulder and arm muscles as well as increase overall mobility and range of motion.
Stretching exercises should be performed with proper technique, such as without bouncing or jumping. Furthermore, they should be done at least two to three times a week for maximum benefit.
Flexibility exercise programs should be tailored to meet your individual needs, including identifying and correcting postural imbalances that could be the source of pain. For instance, if you have short hamstrings, a physical therapist might focus on strengthening these muscles instead of stretching them for long-lasting relief.
Stretching can be used to increase flexibility, including static, dynamic and pre-contraction stretching. Static stretching helps increase range of motion before or during activity while dynamic and pre-contraction stretching are best suited for recovery or rehabilitation after strenuous physical exertion.
A TENS machine works by sending electrical pulses to reduce pain signals that travel from nerves to the brain. Additionally, it encourages your body to release natural hormones which also help reduce discomfort levels.
TENS machines come in various sizes and settings to meet your requirements. They can be used at home or by a healthcare professional’s office.
To use a TENS unit, you place electrode patches with lead wires attached. These patches are made of an ultrathin material that attaches to your skin for secure placement.
It’s essential to place the patches correctly so they make firm contact with your skin. Otherwise, they could alter how the TENS stimulates your nerves, leading to discomfort.
TENS units are generally safe for most users, though it’s best to consult your healthcare provider first. People who should not use TENS include pregnant women, those with pacemakers or implanted heart rhythm devices, and those allergic to the adhesive pads.
Hydrotherapy is an ancient form of treatment that involves exercise and specific physiotherapy techniques done in warm water. It has proven beneficial for people with various medical conditions such as joint pain, arthritis and muscle weakness.
The warmth of the water aids healing and relaxation, encouraging natural recovery. Not only that, but it hydrates skin, increases blood flow and enhances digestion activity as well.
Hydrotherapy sessions reduce cortisol and norepinephrine, the stress hormones. This is often beneficial for patients suffering from pain as it reduces their levels of stress which in turn helps ease any discomfort they may be feeling.
At Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland, hydrotherapy is an integral component of their Physical Therapy for Pain Management program. Here, teams work one-on-one with patients to customize their rehabilitation program and enhance quality of life.