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Physical Therapy for Back Pain - Topic Overview

Physical therapists provide a type of treatment you may need when back pain makes it hard to move around and do everyday tasks. This treatment helps you move better and may relieve pain. It also helps improve or restore your physical function and your fitness level.

The goal of physical therapy is to make daily tasks and activities easier. For example, it may help with walking, going up stairs, or getting in and out of bed.

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Physical therapy may be used alone or with other treatments.

You may get treatment at:

  • A clinic.
  • A hospital.
  • A sports or fitness setting.

Your physical therapist will examine you and make a treatment plan. You may need help with flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination, and/or balance.

First, your therapist will try to reduce your pain and swelling. Then he or she will probably work to increase your flexibility, strength, and endurance.

Physical therapy almost always includes exercise. It can include stretching, core exercises, weight lifting, and walking. You may learn an exercise program so you can do it at home.

Your physical therapist also may use manual therapy, education, and techniques such as heat, cold, water, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation.

Treatment may cause mild soreness or swelling. This is normal, but talk to your physical therapist if it bothers you.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 19, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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