How Physical Therapy is More than Just Exercise

February 20, 2019 | Back Pain

Whenever possible, back pain should be approached nonsurgically before exploring the surgical options. As a spine doctor in New Jersey, we often refer patients to physical therapy as an alternative to surgery or as a way to recover post-surgery. While physical therapy may seem like an equivalent to going to the gym, there are many pain relieving, strengthening, and health benefits that have powerful effects on the body.

  • Increase mobility – this is beneficial for a couple reasons. Having a better range-of-motion will limit the amount of activity you can accomplish and increase the stress it puts on your body, increasing the possibility of injury. For post-surgical physical therapy, the stretching preserves your mobility by ensuring the scar tissue doesn’t form in a way that constricts range-of-motion.
  • Pain relief and strengthening – these two topics are one and the same because oftentimes, pain is caused by one part of your body being weak, causing you to favor one side. For example, lower back pain may be caused by your shoulders and chest being too weak, so you hunch forward and put strain on your back. Physical therapy pinpoints those weaknesses and injuries and then strengthens them, alleviating the pain you were feeling in other parts of your body.
  • Core strength – there’s a reason the core is sometimes referred to as a trunk, because like a tree trunk, all stability and strength for the rest of the body is maintained there. Having a weak core affects how the rest of the body operates and can cause wide-spread injury and pain. Physical therapy strengthens your back and abs to give you a stronger foundation for the rest of the body.

It is important to remember that pulling “stretches for back pain” up on the internet isn’t the same as going to physical therapy. Physical therapists are trained to identify weak points in the body and customize therapy to make patients feel better. Their guidance is invaluable to ensuring you experience a level of pain relief and mobility that allows you to get back to your normal activities.

Learn more about the benefits of physical therapy as an alternative to surgery or as a way to recover post-surgery here, or if you’d like to see if physical therapy may be an option for relieving your back pain, schedule an appointment with one of our physicians here.

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