How therapy is used to treat chronic back pain without surgery

Sadly, many back and neck pain sufferers travel from doctor to doctor trying to find relief from recurring back pain symptoms and spasms. Along the way, a doctor may have recommended therapy as a non-surgical treatment option. Unfortunately, some people may be disappointed with the result.

“Part of the problem is that people want immediate symptom relief and are attracted to passive things where they lay on their stomach and someone applies ice, heat or massage,” explains Reid Parnell, DPT, who directs spine therapy at Baptist Health Spine Center. “That may feel good at the time, but long term it cures nothing because they aren’t changing the physiology of your back.”

“The only thing that changes the physiology of your back or neck is surgery — or exercise that strengthens muscles and ligaments in your back, makes them more flexible and then more resistant to strain,” he adds. “Surgery is the last resort. So active therapy, or manual manipulation, is the least invasive treatment option.”

Baptist Health Spine Center also works with other therapy centers and chiropractic clinics in Arkansas that emphasize an active approach, rather than a passive approach. “Manual therapy and manipulation can relieve pain symptoms which enables the patient to move into a customized exercise prescription and stretches. The result is that pain relief is achieved not passively, but through active movement of the joints and tissues,”  Parnell explains.

“The back pain sufferer needs to understand that pain pills only mask symptoms,” he adds. “Exercises, manipulation and stretches can help repair and strengthen soft tissues and tendons. Simply put, movement is like lubricant for your back or neck.  Bed rest and inactivity merely weakens bones and muscles and causes further disability. Even a simple 20 minute walk can be good for a sore back. Research has shown that the more you restrict movement, the harder and longer your rehabilitation. Some research notes that you need a 20 minute walk just to counter the effect of three hours lying down.”

“At Baptist Health Spine Center, we want the patient to be well-informed about the causes of back and neck pain and what really works to free yourself from recurring back pain attacks,” summarizes Parnell. “We focus on a more permanent relief of back pain, rather than a temporary one.”

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