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When is it Time to Consider Physical Therapy?

If you’ve been struggling with pain and things are getting worse (or staying the same) rather than getting better, your doctor may recommend that you begin physical therapy treatments. This approach can be extremely effective for people who are suffering from both back and neck conditions, as it provides exercises and movements designed to strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments that support the spine and its joints.


In many cases, the source of back pain is a lack of flexibility in the musculoskeletal system. Physical therapy can restore balance. It not only provides back and neck pain patients with tools that can help provide healing and relief, but also that can prevent a recurrence of the same problem in the future. Physical therapy for back pain has several goals, including:


  • Teaching patients to stretch and strengthen their muscles. This provides the opportunity for them to heal and get stronger.
  • Teaching patients about how good ergonomics and posture can help them relieve pain and protect their spine from future injury.
  • Reducing pain and inflammation through passive therapies including ice, ultrasound, heat, massage, and electrical stimulation.
  • Returning patients to greater flexibility and mobility through stretching exercises foused on specific regions.
  • Strengthening the muscles that are involved in the painful condition through exercise and postures.
  • Providing exercises and stretches that the patient can use throughout their return to normal activities and continue throughout their life in order to prevent a recurrence of the same injury or condition.


Many people make the mistake of trying to look up stretches on their own, or to address their problem using stretching classes or yoga at their local gym. Though these can be helpful, it is important to remember that not every stretch is right for every body or backache, and by trying to go a nonprofessional approach, you run the risk of doing yourself more harm than good.


If you’re wondering whether physical therapy is the right approach for you, your first step should be to make an appointment with a physician who specializes in spine surgery and treating neck and back pain. In many cases physical therapy can plan an important role in a conservative treatment approach, and studies have shown that it can help patients return to normal activities and a pain-free life faster.


Physical therapy is particularly helpful for back pain patients who find themselves in a cycle of pain that either doesn’t completely go away, or which goes away but then returns again when they do something that causes it to come back. The education and strengthening exercises that are provided by physical therapists can make an enormous difference, but only if the patient is truly compliant with the program and adopts the stretches and exercise as a part of their daily routine going forward. Patients who view physical therapy’s lessons for back pain as something that they can abandon as soon as their pain goes away will likely find themselves back in the same cycle they were in before.