How does physiotherapy actually help back pain?


Having an episode of low back pain? You're not alone: about 85% of people experience at least one episode in their lifetime.

Perhaps the worst part of having low back pain is not knowing when it will get better, or what to do about it. It seems that everyone has had an experience with low back pain and is more than willing to give you some helpful advice. Unfortunately, back pain has many different presentations and what works for one person may or may not be helpful to you.

Here is some reassuring news: most types of acute low back pain can be effectively resolved with just a few treatments of high-quality physiotherapy. Chronic low back pain takes a bit longer, but physiotherapy is a great way to get on track to improving the health of your back.

The First Visit

What does physiotherapy typically consist of? Well, at Tall Tree, your first visit will include a detailed history and physical assessment that will help us determine what treatments will be most effective in reducing your low back pain. The assessment also enables us to set specific goals so that we can tailor treatment towards what matters most to you, from full contact sports to playing with the grandchildren.   

From there, you can expect that treatment will work you through three stages of rehabilitation so that you can fully recover.

Stage One: Managing the Pain

In the first stage, when your pain is acute, treatment will be focused on decreasing your pain to a manageable level. This is typically accomplished through the use of manual therapy (hands-on treatment) to help improve your mobility and decrease muscle spasm. Often, a specific exercise or position can go a long way to giving you a way to independently decrease your pain at home. Finally, education on activities to avoid on a temporary basis and ways to keep moving will also be discussed.

Stage Two: Recovery in Motion

Once your pain is under control, you can move into the second stage of rehabilitation: recovery of movement. In this stage, manual therapy is used to stretch out tight muscles and joints and help improve your mobility. Exercises aimed at stretching and restoring full motion in your back will reinforce the effects of manual therapy and help manage stiffness.

Stage Three: Getting Stable & Strong

The final stage of rehabilitation focuses on recovery of your strength, stability, and movement. Although you may not have much pain at this stage, recovery is not complete. For many people, low back pain is episodic – recurring from time to time. There is good research that indicates strength and stability exercises help decrease the frequency and severity of these episodes greatly. Typically, this stage of recovery will begin with what is commonly known as “Core stabilization exercise”; functional exercises based on activities you plan on returning to can help build strength and confidence so that you can get back to a full and active lifestyle!  

Typically, a good physiotherapy treatment program can help you recover and give you self-management tools to use if your low back pain reoccurs. And if you can’t get your pain to settle down on your own, we are always here to help!