Physical therapy is often recommended for patients who have undergone a major injury, such as spinal cord injuries, or who suffer from an impairment that limits their mobility. Unfortunately, while consistent, careful use of physical therapy can greatly improve physical function, boost quality of life, reduce disability, and avoid long-term disabilities, it cannot always be labeled a permanent cure for lower back pain. While thorough, systematic, patient-centered physical therapy can definitely enhance functional function, reduce disability, and promote overall wellness, it does not necessarily represent a “cure.” The objectives of physical therapy are primarily to assist patients cope with their pain, manage its impact on their daily lives, and improve the quality of their lives.
In order for physical therapy to truly be termed a cure, several stipulations must first be met. First, the treatment must involve the rehabilitation of injured or disabled muscles, ligaments, tendons, or joints. The rehabilitative therapy used to treat back pain must be directed towards correcting the primary cause of the pain and must include exercise and stretching exercises. This is important because physical therapists know that the most effective physical therapy involves targeted movements of the patient’s limbs, which will increase flexibility, strength, and range of motion. If physical therapists do not provide proper exercise and stretching exercises for the patient, their chances for successful pain management and recovery diminish dramatically.
Second, the physical therapists must also have a clear understanding of how the affected muscles work. An understanding of how the injured muscle functions and the way the muscles are put together and then used during each movement must also be present in the physical therapist’s mind. If these conditions are not present, the physical therapist may not have the ability to make the correct adjustments will not necessarily be successful. Even if the physical therapist knows exactly how the muscles are used in daily movements, there is still no guarantee that they will know how the muscle tissues will react to any given movement.
Third, it is important to understand that the physical therapists themselves are often also suffering from pain related to their physical therapy regimen. When patients are experiencing chronic pain, physical therapists are often under greater stress. A healthy lifestyle is essential to treating and preventing chronic back pain, including proper rest and regular exercise, adequate sleep, a good diet, stress management, avoidance of alcohol and nicotine abuse, and quitting smoking, and using pain medications only as necessary. While the physical therapist may be skilled at helping patients achieve their goals, they are not skilled at curing chronic pain. Their focus should be on the restoration of optimum health and functioning rather than on the removal of the symptoms.
Physical therapists must also recognize that the goals they set forth in their client care plans are unrealistic and impractical. There is no medication that can permanently correct or alleviate pain from a physical problem, whether it is a herniated disc a pinched nerve, or chronic lower back pain. When patients are told that they will lose functionality without proper treatment or return to their prior state within three to six months of initiating therapy, they become resistant to the therapy. Patients who believe this will result in a quick fix to their problems will not be receptive to treatments, because the goal of the therapy is to make the patient’s life easier. The goal of the physical therapist is to help their clients to function better day in and day out by allowing them to live a healthy lifestyle and improve their quality of life.
While physical therapy is a powerful and helpful tool to treat chronic lower back pain, the results of the therapy are not necessarily permanent. As the patient ages, the body produces less of the “good” chemicals and nutrients that it needs to maintain healthy health and function. While therapy may be effective in reducing pain associated with chronic Lower Back Physical Therapy, the effectiveness of the therapy and the time it takes to see results may not be a good fit for older individuals.
Regardless, of the limitations that the physical therapist sets in their therapy sessions, they should be cautious to avoid overusing the therapy. Overuse of therapy will likely result in the client becoming bored with the program and a lack of interest in the therapy overall. The therapist should keep their client’s interests and goals in mind at all times and not allow their focus to slip away. In favor of other things. When a person has a great interest in the therapy, they are more likely to remain with the therapy and will be open to new therapies and treatment options. This will increase their likelihood of success.
If the physical therapist does not have an interest in providing alternative therapies such as acupuncture or massage therapy, the patient should consider finding a therapist that shares this interest. It is very difficult to provide the therapeutic benefits of physical treatments to a client that is not interested in working with a therapist that has an interest in their particular goals.