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Rehabilitation For Your Injured Back

Back Be Nimble Newsletter - February 2002

Rehabilitation - also called "physical therapy" or "exercise" - is critical for preventing back pain and for recovering from a bout of back pain or surgery. Once the pain from an episode of back pain is under control, the next step is to focus on rehabilitation in order to prevent and/or minimize any future recurrences.

Ironically, experiencing pain usually prevents us from getting the exercise we need to recover. But in general it's very important to help the back recover properly through exercise.

The goals of a rehabilitation program are usually to:
  • Decrease your pain
  • Increase your ability to go about your daily activities and function normally
  • Educate you about how to prevent future bouts of pain.
To accomplish these goals, a typical rehabilitation program consists of a combination of stretching, strengthening and low impact exercise.

Any form of inactivity usually results in stiffness of muscles, ligaments and tendons. This is especially true if you have had a day or two of bed rest and/or have been taking it easy due to a painful back. Therefore, it is important to start a gentle, controlled stretching program. You may find it takes awhile (maybe even a month or more) to develop improved flexibility, but over time better flexibility will provide meaningful relief of your pain. Most spine specialists also advocate a program of strengthening exercises for rehabilitation, and an episode of back pain that lasts for more than two weeks should be treated with proper strengthening exercises to prevent a downward cycle of pain and weakness.

Finally, getting in shape through a controlled low-impact aerobic exercise program is very important for both rehabilitation and maintenance of the lower back. In general, people who are in good aerobic condition have fewer episodes of back pain and will experience less pain if an episode does occur.

Obviously, the last thing you want to do is re-injure your back while exercising, so it's best to start an exercise program with a trained and licensed physical therapist, occupational therapist, chiropractic physician or physical medicine and rehabilitation physician (also called a physiatrist). Depending on your specific diagnosis and level of pain, your rehabilitation program will be very different, and these specialists are trained to develop a fitting rehabilitation program and instruct you on the correct form and technique.

Of course, getting better is only the beginning, since further episodes of back pain are quite common as time passes. But we hope that a better knowledge of rehabilitation of your injured back will help you better manage your back health.

At Back Be Nimble, we bend over backwards to help your back be nimble again!

Best Wishes,

Dr. Brad Lustick
CEO and Ergonomic Supervisor

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