Physical Therapy: An Alternative to Back Surgery

It may seem counterintuitive for a surgeon to recommend physical therapy instead of back surgery, but lumbar fusion is not appropriate for everyone. Many people suffering from back pain can benefit from physical therapy.

Physical therapy can strengthen the back and move the protruding disk away from the affected nerve. Pain management procedures may relieve pain. With some patience and tolerance, physical therapy may help you avoid lumbar surgery.

One important thing you can do is to avoid slouching or leaning in a single direction, thus placing less strain on the spine. If you sit or bend in one position for too long, remember to twist or bend in the other direction to relieve muscle tension and balance the stress. Add to this some simple stretching exercises you can perform at your desk, such as rolling your shoulder blades 10 times, squeezing your shoulder blades 10 times or slowly turning your head over each shoulder 10 times. These exercises will help keep your tissues comfortable and mobile.

In addition, the following therapies often allow us to enhance the effects of exercise for the patient:

  • electric stimulation
  • massage
  • heat/cold therapy
  • ultrasound
  • diathermy
  • hydrotherapy
  • joint mobilization

Remember: Physical therapy comes with education. Because this information cannot take the place of your surgeon’s advice, always seek a physician’s opinion on important matters such as lumbar health. We can work with your surgeon to design a program that helps you manage back pain and could allow you to avoid surgery.