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Back Pain Health Center

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Physical Therapy and Pain Management

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Sometimes pain relief can be accomplished through physical therapy. Physical therapy (PT) involves treatments that focus on prevention and management of injuries or disabilities. PT helps to relieve pain, promote healing, and restore function and movement.

PT is practiced by a professionally trained physical therapist. A physical therapist is a specialist skilled and educated specifically in evaluation and conservative management, including rehabilitation, of orthopaedic, neurologic, and cardiovascular conditions..

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About one in four Americans has experienced low back pain within the past three months, making it one of the most common types of pain and the most frequent cause of disability in adults under 45. Although pain medication can’t actually heal a back injury, it can relieve pain and open a window for other treatments -- such as physical therapy -- to have a chance to work. There are multiple categories and types of medications for back pain; depending on how severe your symptoms are, how long you’ve...

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How Is Physical Therapy Used to Treat Pain?

A therapist may focus on decreasing pain with either passive or active therapy. Examples of passive physical therapy include:

  • Manual therapies
  • Heat/ice packs
  • Electrical stimulation, including TENS units
  • Ultrasound
  • Dry needling

Examples of active physical therapy include:

  • Movement based activities, including stretching and range of motion exercises
  • Specific strengthening exercises
  • Pain relief exercises
  • Low-impact aerobic conditioning

Points to Consider About Physical Therapy and Pain

An important aspect to keep in mind about physical therapy and pain relief is that each individual may respond differently to therapy. People have different types of bodies, different patterns of movement, and different habits. Physical therapists and their trained staff can monitor each individual and attempt to correct improper habits and movement patterns.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Ross Brakeville, DPT on January 26, 2015
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