What Is Spinal Physiotherapy?

Spinal Physiotherapy is a relatively new field of medical treatment which utilises any available physical intervention including manual resistance, stretching, traction, therapeutic exercise, sports massage and other exercises to give medically justified, proof-based and sustainable options for posturally-oriated or movement restricted spinal muscles or injuries. Spinal Physiotherapy incorporates the best available modalities for pain management. Manual therapy can be used in spondylosis, herniated discs, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis and spinal muscular atrophy. Spinal manipulation or mobilization can reverse degenerative or damaging spinal pathologies or promote the development of healthier body structures. You can learn more at sports medicine clinic

Spinal physiology has become an increasingly important area of medical research and much study over recent years. The term Spinal Physiotherapy was first used in 1984 by Joseph Moriarty, a world renowned Physiotherapist. Initially it was used to rehabilitate spinal muscular atrophy. Today it is commonly utilised in treating a wide range of lower back and neck pain problems, with more advanced techniques being developed to treat spinal conditions such as sciatica and fibromyalgia.

Spinal Physiotherapy can be broadly divided into manual and mechanical techniques. Manual therapy typically employs physical techniques to help align the spine and encourage natural movement and functioning. This includes exercises to strengthen back muscles and stretch the muscles of the arms and shoulders. Physical therapy is also used to prevent muscle atrophy and loss of muscle strength from neck pain in patients who have suffered trauma or severe falls. Mechanical therapy is used to restore motion to injured or degenerated discs through physical therapy and massage. Massage is often recommended after a spinal manipulation to promote healing and to alleviate pain.

Spinal Physiotherapy will usually involve a combination of these two therapies. The physical therapist will encourage movement and increase the range of flexion and extension in patients suffering from chronic low back pain, and may use spinal traction devices to gently realign spinal bones and discs. In more extreme cases, where conservative treatment has not been successful, or where severe disc herniation and ligament laxity have resulted in further neck pain and restriction of movement, spinal physiotherapy will involve invasive techniques such as spinal traction and laminectomy. Spinal laminectomy is the name for surgically removing part of the vertebral arch in order to relieve pressure on surrounding nerves and to allow better circulation of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the affected area.

There are a number of advantages associated with spinal physiotherapy, both for the patient and the practitioner. For starters, spinal physiotherapy provides immediate, symptom-based relief from pain and movement restrictions. This can be an extremely valuable benefit to patients recovering from a sports accident or those with degenerative spinal diseases such as osteoarthritis. Spine surgery carries a high price tag and, if it is required, the procedure cannot take place until more than a year has passed. Patients who undergo spinal physiotherapy treatment are able to resume their normal activities immediately. This immediate improvement in lifestyle is another important advantage of this therapy.

Spinal manipulation or laminectomy is not the only treatment that a qualified clinical physiotherapist can offer. Other treatments include low level laser therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), infrared and ultrasound therapies and more recently, orthopedic manipulative therapy. Spinal manipulation or laminectomy can result in significant short term pain relief. However, in more chronic cases, where the disease has not responded positively to conservative treatment, laminectomy can be accompanied by spinal trauma, resulting in long term pain and limitation of movement. With the advent of TENS technology, which is based on the concept that pain is brought about by the flow of electrical currents, this problem can be addressed. TENS can successfully control pain, but has not been shown to be effective in eliminating spinal compression or osteoarthritis.

If your physician decides that your neck or lower back pain is related to an untreated spinal disorder, he or she may recommend physical therapy as an adjunct to conservative treatments. Physical therapy addresses the musculoskeletal aspects of disease and injury. Physical therapists use techniques such as stability and strength training, stretching exercises, balance and coordination activities, gentle massage and deep tissue massage to alleviate pain and improve function.

When you first visit your local physiotherapist, he or she will evaluate your medical history and perform a thorough physical examination. You will also be assessed for neck and back pain related to arthritis, degenerative spinal conditions, or other musculoskeletal problems. A diagnostic evaluation will then be performed to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms. If conservative treatments are not effective, your physician might suggest spinal manipulation or laminectomy (a surgical procedure to remove a portion of the vertebral arch). In most cases, when conservative treatments do not work, referral to a reputable chiropractic center or orthopedic surgeon is recommended.