Yes, PTs are known as the "movement specialists," using hands-on techniques, specific exercises, and other modalities to decrease pain and restore function. They use their knowledge of anatomy and physiology to identify the root of the problem and develop a specific treatment plan to promote healthy movement without experiencing pain in the low back or any other area in the body.
No, physical therapy is for all physical injuries, disorders, disease, or pre/post surgery rehabilitation, as well as prevention of injuries. Physical therapy is the MOST conservative medical approach to treating any musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions. PTs have the knowledge and experience to treat a variety of disease and disorders, from a common ankle sprain to spinal surgery, traumatic brain injury, stroke, and heart attack patients.
What is Physical Therapy?
Physical Therapists (PTs) are highly educated Doctors of Physical Therapy. We are board certified/licensed health care professionals. PTs help individuals by decreasing their pain without medication and improve or restore their mobility, and in many cases without expensive surgery and often reducing the need for long-term use of prescription meds and their side effects.
PTs conduct a thorough initial evaluation where they carefully listen to the patient's physical complaints, conduct a thorough physical examination for each patient, then establish a plan to promote the ability to move, restore function, and help to prevent re-injury by using one to one hands-on treatments of massage, mobilization/manipulation, stretching techniques, and therapeutic exercises to strengthen muscles to decrease pain and help to act as a support for the joints. PTs currently do not prescribe medicine (except in the military).
Chiropractors (DCs) are highly educated, holistic health professionals that DO NOT prescribe medicine and appear mostly concerned with mechanical disorders of the spine with an emphasis on spinal adjustments. In addition, Chiros recognize the value and responsibility of working in cooperation with other health care practitioners, including Physicians and Physical Therapists, when in the best interest of the patient. "Chiropractic is a healthcare discipline that emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself." -World Federation of Chiropractors
Pain that usually comes on suddenly and is caused by a specific mechanism of injury. It usually does not last longer than 3-6 months. It will resolve when there is no longer an underlying cause for the pain.
Some acute injuries include:
Pain is considered chronic once it lasts for more than 6 months and exceeds the body's ability for natural healing to occur. Chronic pain in the low back often involves a disc problem, joint problem, and/or an irritated nerve root.
Some chronic low back pain causes include:
Muscle Strain and Ligament Sprains
A low back strain can happen suddenly, or can develop slowly over time from repetitive movements. Strains can occur when a muscle is stretched too far and tears, damaging the muscle itself. Sprains can happen when ligaments in the spine tear or stretch too far. Ligaments connect the spinal bones together.
As mentioned above, physical therapy is the most conservative treatment for all physical injuries or disease process. If you are experiencing acute or chronic back pain physical therapy can help in most cases and help you to avoid costly, and in most cases painful surgery. Low back pain does not have to exist, even if it is chronic! Spinal surgery is considered a radical approach and could help in some cases, but should only be after exhausting all conservative methods to affect change in your ailment. Please understand that there are many risks involved with any surgery, including additional surgeries due to infection and/or complications, increased pain, and further complications. Also, there are NO guarantees with spinal surgery and it may not help to resolve your back pain at all!