Fast Five Quiz: Are You Prepared to Confront Holiday Decorating Injuries?

Richard H. Sinert, DO


December 05, 2017

Physical therapy in the recovery phase of lower back pain initially involves a light program of muscle stretching and strengthening for the abdominal and paraspinal muscles. In conjunction with this program, various modalities (eg, heat, ice, ultrasound, electrical stimulation) and soft-tissue massage may help make the patient more comfortable. In everyday life, the individual should be instructed to maintain an upright posture of the spine when sitting, standing, and lifting or moving things. An upright position while lifting assures that the legs and not the lower back carry the weight. Light muscle massage to relax the involved muscle group and chiropractic manipulations have been reported to relieve muscle pain and spasms, thus making the patient more tolerant to his or her rehabilitation exercise program. However, injections of muscle relaxants may still be necessary.

In the acute phase of lower back pain, bed rest may be considered for a short period (<48 hours). However, most studies now support the affected individual maintaining some activity level, even in the acute phase, as this results in a more rapid functional recovery.

Cold therapy for a short period (up to 48 hours) should be applied to the affected area to limit the localized tissue inflammation and edema. The physical therapist may recommend electrical stimulation to be completed in conjunction with the ice to help further decrease pain and inflammation. The patient should also be instructed in the proper body mechanics with everyday tasks (eg, getting in/out of bed) to ensure that no further unnecessary stress is applied to the injured area.

Surgery is generally not necessary in the treatment of lumbosacral spine sprains or strains.

For more on the treatment of lumbosacral sprains and strains, read here.


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