Healthfx Physiotherapy
Back and Neck Physical Therapy: What to Expect

Even if you’ve never had the misfortune to experience an accident or acute injury, most people in North America will experience low back or neck pain at least once during their lives.

Back and Neck pain is one of the most common reasons people go to Physical Therapy and miss work. Neck and Back Pain may result from a variety of causes such as poor working mechanics (ergonomics), from muscle strains, joint sprains, as well as from overuse and poor postural habits. Along with traumatic accidents and whiplash, diseases such as arthritis, degenerative disc disease and spondylolysis can cause pain.

Many clients who are not in their best physical shape may develop structural patterns of tightness and weakness, painful and functional imbalances that may lead to further repetitive strains. The good news is that these are preventable. Often due to poor fitness, a lack of core strength, and limited hip and back mobility, there are disease processes such as osteoporosis and arthritis that may be the cause of back pain. Many people may simply loose some of their mobility and not experience severe pain and not seek help — but this doesn’t mean that problems don’t exist. If you are not moving as well as you should be or have back and neck pain or stiffness, seek physiotherapy immediately even if your injuries are not immediately apparent is important.

Back Pain and Neck Pain

If you have ever seen someone getting up slowly after sitting for a long time, shovelling snow, perhaps gardening or lifting and they can't get up straight again, you feel their pain. The spine goes into a painful spasm, as they slowly stand upright with the help of pushing with their hands off their legs or the arm of a chair if sitting — their pain is acute. This force (sitting) causes damage to the muscles and ligaments in the low back. You may have also seen this in someone who’s woken up after falling asleep on the couch and experiencing neck pain?

While you might not feel the results of these kinds of neck and back stresses immediately, it is common to only notice it after the pain begins to be more chronic and consistent. Symptoms include:

  • Stiffness and pain in the neck or back
  • Reduced mobility
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Lower back or shoulder pain
  • Sciatic or pain radiating down the leg
  • Pain radiating down the arm
  • Possible numbness in the arm or hand, leg or foot

If you suffer from any one of these issues, physiotherapy can be very helpful. These injuries can get much worse, and disrupt your day-to-day life, often disturbing how well you sleep at night.

The Successful Treatment of Neck and Back Pain

On the bright side, you can take measures to prevent or lesson most back and neck pain episodes. Often simple self-care, postural hygiene and maintaining proper body mechanics will improve your neck and back pain within a few days. If it doesn't, book an appointment with your physiotherapist. After your first appointment at Healthfx Physiotherapy, where your therapist makes a diagnosis of what precisely you are suffering from, your treatment will begin with some education and tools for you to take care of yourself.

Exercise will be necessary, but you should begin slowly due to the initial pain you will inevitably experience doing so. Movements should be gentle and focused on recovering mobility and range of motion. Ask your Physical Therapists what movements and positions that you should avoid. Strength will be rebuilt through daily repetition of the techniques assigned for you to practice at home.

The key to recovery is patience and repetition. Depending on the severity of your injuries, and the length of time between the accident and your first physical therapy appointment, the process could be lengthier than you would like.

Resting too much after an injury or accident where you experienced pain allows the muscles to become weak and stiff, making it more difficult to regain flexibility. Upon completion of your diagnosis, should you have anything requiring additional investigation, your physiotherapist will refer you to your doctor and work with them to determine the amount you should be working or training.

To increase your chances of a swift recovery, allow your therapist to educate you on the healing process, follow your at-home recovery guide and stay optimistic. Your energy and willingness to get back on track is what will get you through to the other side.

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