Lower back pain is one of the most common conditions in the United States, with estimates suggesting that more than 50% of adults will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. Fortunately, there are many ways to treat lower back pain, and one of the most common treatments is physical therapy. In this article, we’ll look at the different types of physical therapy for lower back pain and discuss the benefits and risks of each.
What is physical therapy for lower back pain?
Physical therapy for lower back pain is a type of treatment that can help relieve symptoms and improve function. Treatment options include exercises, heat therapy, and massages. Physical therapy may also include the use of medication to help reduce inflammation or pain.
Types of physical therapy for lower back pain
Physical therapy for lower back pain can be classified according to the source of the pain. The most common sources of back pain are herniated discs, bulging discs, nerve damage, and arthritis.
Herniated discs are the most common cause of lower back pain and can be caused by a number of things, including a fall on out-of-balance vertebrae. Physical therapy for herniated discs typically includes exercises that reduce inflammation and improve joint mobility. Bulging discs are often caused by a protrusion from one or more surrounding discs, which can make them susceptible to pressure and degeneration. Physical therapy for bulging discs often includes exercises that reduce pressure on the disc and stretch the surrounding muscles. Nerve damage can cause back pain as a result of compression or irritation to the spinal cord or nerves. Physical therapy for nerve damage typically includes exercises that improve muscle strength and flexibility around the spine and help reduce inflammation. Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints in the spine, hips, and other areas of the body, which can lead to back pain. Physical therapy for arthritis typically includes exercises that improve joint movement and function.
Physical therapy exercises for lower back pain
If you’re experiencing lower back pain, physical therapy may be a good option for you. Physical therapy can help improve your range of motion, strength, and flexibility in your back. Here are six exercises that physical therapists often use to treat lower back pain.
1. The Hamstring Curl: This exercise targets the hamstrings and glutes. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your legs bent at a 90-degree angle. Drive your heels into the ground and curl your legs up towards your butt. Hold the position for three seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat ten times.
2. The Knee-Down: This exercise works the quadriceps, hamstring, and glute muscles. Lie flat on your back with both feet flat on the ground, bent at the knee, and arms extended straight above you. Drive your hips and heels into the ground, and press down through your feet and legs to lift your torso off the ground. Keep your shoulders pressed down until you reach the top of the movement, then slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position. Repeat eight times.
3. The Side Lunge: This exercise targets the glute and hamstring muscles, and sometimes it is called the Side Lunge. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lean forward so that your torso is parallel to the ground, and then extend your left leg out in front of you while lunging forward with your right leg twelve times on each side.
4. The Calf Raise: This exercise targets the calf muscles. Sit on the floor with your back against an elevated surface, such as a couch or chair. Place both legs in front of you, and flex your ankles to raise them off the floor. Hold the position for two seconds, then slowly lower them back down to the starting position. Repeat six times on each leg.
5. The Glute Bridge: This exercise works the glute muscles and hamstrings. Lie flat on your back with your legs extended in front of you, bent at a 90-degree angle. Drive your heels into the ground, and lift your torso off the ground while keeping your hips stationary. Hold the position for two seconds, then slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position. Repeat twelve times.
6. The Plank: This exercise targets the core muscles and spine. Start by lying facedown on the ground with your palms flat on the ground. Drive your heels into the ground, and lift your torso and upper legs off the ground. Hold the position for two seconds, then slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position. Repeat eight times.
How often should I see a physical therapist for my lower back pain?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best approach for treating lower back pain will vary depending on the individual’s specific situation and symptoms. However, most experts agree that patients should see a physical therapist at least once per month for the first few months after experiencing pain, and then every couple of weeks or so thereafter.
If you are experiencing lower back pain, it is important to seek out professional help. Physical therapy can help to improve your range of motion and flexibility, as well as decrease the inflammation and pain that can accompany lower back pain. If you are in urgent need of physical therapy, be sure to contact a PT who specializes in treating lower back pain so that you can get the treatment that you need as soon as possible.