Physical therapy for lower back pain is similar to treatments as for other athletic injuries.
Cold can reduce inflammation by reducing the size of blood vessels and slowing the flow of blood to the area. Cold modalities may feel superficially painful to the skin, however it numbs the deeper more intense muscle and/or connective tissue pain.
Heat dilates the blood vessels, improving the supply of oxygen that the blood takes to the back and reducing muscle spasms. Heat can also alter and reduce the sensation of pain.
High frequency “ultrasonic” sound waves are used to treat soft tissues by brining more blood flow and cells to an injury site. The belief is that injuries can heal better and faster with the use of ultra sound. Supporters say that this treatment can increase the development of collagen (strengthening tendons), increase the flexibility of scar tissue and reduce pain (all positives).
The Ultrasonic sound waves are produced by a mechanical vibration of the metal within the machine. The device is rubbed or lightly massaged over the injury. This vibration of the ultrasound machine leads to the production of heat within the tissue (although the patient cannot feel it). Treatments typically last less than 5 minutes and can be done twice a day.
Electrical stimulation is the use of an electrical current to create a contraction in the muscle fibers. This procedure is often done using a small machine that connects to the body with small sticky pads. This is typically used as part of a rehabilitation program along with ice or heat. Electrical stimulation is typically used to reduce swelling, reduce pain, strengthen muscles, and increasing uptake of certain medications. The theory is that electrical stimulation reduces pain by interfering with body’s nerve signals.
With self massage you can use your hands, a foam roller, the corner of a door jam or lie on a tennis ball (or lacrosse ball). The best method will depend on the location (and extent) of the injury. Play around and see what works best.
Stretching is used to improve the extension of muscles and connective tissues of the back. Stretching can reduce lower right back pain, overall stiffness and improve range of motion.
A physical therapy program should also include some core strengthening exercises and body re-alignment exercises such as
Before starting any exercise program make sure you get clearance from your doctor and discuss the ideal and safest exercise for you.