Can Physical Therapy Relieve Low Back Pain After An Injury or An Accident?

Our spine is like a set of stackable blocks with bones that keeps you erect, provide a stable base, maintain posture, absorb shock and protect the spinal cord. Anything wrong with it can lead to pain from the base of the head to the bottom of your tailbone. The lower part of the backbone is most affected due to various reasons such as poor posture, constant straining or injuries. It is estimated that nearly 70-85% of Americans are suffering from low back pain at one time or other.

Most cases of low back pain are due to straining and usually resolve in less than a week with little or no treatment.

Benefits of Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain after an Accident or an Injury
Benefits of Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain following an Accident or an Injury

However, some patients, especially the ones involved in serious auto accidents or work-related accidents, experience a sharp, excruciating or radiating low back pain as a result of an injury that warrant’s a timely visit to the physician or physical therapist to evaluate and prevent the condition from becoming debilitating. In long-lasting cases, it typically requires more than one visits to accurately diagnose and treat the condition.

Depending on the severity of the pain, most doctors and physicians recommend opioids or other forms of treatments including spinal injections and surgery. However, a recent study suggests that trying physical therapy as a first line treatment can be safe and effective in the long term as it may ease the strain and curb reliance on opioids and other related treatment options. 

Physical therapists are well trained in the neuromuscular and musculoskeletal system that enables them to effectively evaluate, diagnose and manage injuries related to muscles, bones, and joints. In contrast to average family physicians, an experienced physiotherapist can better understand your low back pain and treat a variety of underlying issues that may lead to backbone injuries such as a sprain, whiplash injuries, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, sciatica, spondylolisthesis, and herniated disks.

When you first visit a Physical Therapist for low back pain, they will entail a thorough evaluation to learn your strengths or weaknesses and get a sense of what makes you better or worse. He or she will then create an issue list to make a specific plan to treat your condition. The therapist will keep you under observation to check for any ups and downs or negative responses to the activity. Therapist may aid in adjusting, modifying or progressing physical activities and exercises to meet your tolerance.

A physiotherapist also communicates your progress and recovery to your physician and give him the information he needs to make informed decisions related to further medical or surgical procedures you may need to relieve your back pain.

From evaluation to discharge, multiple physiotherapy sessions can help low back pain in many ways such as;

  • A Physical Therapist will ask your past medical history to uncover and address any prior medical conditions, injuries, or surgical procedures that could affect your backbone or spinal cord. 
  • If there is any deficit in the posture, your PT will take necessary measures to realign the backbone and review the progression throughout the treatment.
  • A Physical Therapist will inquire about your occupation, hobbies, and physical activities to ensure if there is any constant or repetitive stress that may exist for your spine and has led to your current injury. He may educate you about body mechanics, safe spine positioning and ergonomics to help you reduce the strain and low back pain.
  • As various exercises are taught during a physical therapy session to improve stability and motor control, your physiotherapist may regularly assess your strength and endurance throughout the treatment course.
  • Your the therapist may use different therapeutic techniques such as ice, heat, warm stockings or traction to reduce your pain and ease related discomfort.
  • As chronic pain can cause stress and mood changes, a good physiotherapist will listen and encourage you through your difficult times.

The American Pain Society recommends adopting non-invasive ways of treatment as the first line of defense to reduce your low back pain such as massage, heat and cold compressions, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and physical therapy. Therefore, physical therapists are continually looking for better ways and ideas to help patients relieve their current pain after an accident or injury and prevent it from getting worse or coming back by educating them about specific exercises, movements and ways of living.