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Optimal Physical Therapy helps patients with many different conditions. Please see the diagram below for information on common conditions we treat and how physical therapy can help you.

About Back Sprains and Strains

It can be quite easy to sprain or strain your back. A sprain refers to an overstretching injury of your ligaments in your spine, whereas a strain refers to an overstretching injury to your muscles. There are small muscles in the spine, which guide the intricate movements of each bone and multi-level joints. These highly coordinated muscle movement can be injured with heavy lifting.

The majority of people sprain or strain their back when they combine lifting with twisting. The best way to avoid an injury to the low back is to use your legs when lifting, bending at the knees and keeping your abdominal muscles engaged to maintain an upright posture. If you have to turn while lifting, move your feet, otherwise the strain of lifting while twisting can cause injury.

Overstretching or tearing of the tissues can result in a sprain and/or strain. While this is often not a complete tear, the resulting damage can cause significant swelling and pain in the back. Typical healing times can take at least 6-12 weeks.

How physical therapy helps:

Physical therapy is very important in your recovery from a back sprain and/or strain. The sooner you can see one of our physical therapists, the better. After the injury, it is important for you to receive physical therapy to reduce inflammation and to learn how to move with reduced pain and likelihood of reinjury. Often times back pain can be exacerbated by limited motion in the mid back (thoracic spine), hips, and pelvis which causes abnormal forces in the low back.

Our physical therapists work with you to loosen any restricted areas, improve movement, reduce your pain, and strengthen your core muscles to prevent re- injury. It is vital that you complete a full course of therapy to decrease the likelihood of re-injury. Studies have shown that people who do not properly re-train their core muscles after a sprain and/or strain injury are more likely to re-injure their back again. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to discover how we can help relieve your back pain and get back to the activities you enjoy.

About Low Back Pain

Low back pain is one of the most common conditions seen by physicians across the country. It is said that over 80% of people will suffer some sort of low back pain during their lifetime. Low back pain can occur for a variety of reasons, but typically all have one or more of the following factors:

  • Poor motion and mobility
  • Spinal, abdominal, or hip weakness
  • Poor coordination of the spinal, abdominal, and pelvic muscles

While medication can mask back pain, it is important to address the underlying causes of the symptoms. Most low back pain is caused by the three factors listed above. When your spinal joints and muscles do not move properly, tremendous strain occurs in your low back. This causes irritation and inflammation, which builds up over time. Typically, people who experience lower back pain will have more pain when moving after sitting or lying down for prolonged periods, such as getting up from a chair or first thing in the morning after sleeping. With severe pain, reaching or bending down for objects can be limited.

If pain is felt more with prolonged standing or walking, this can be a result of significant hip or spinal weakness, again causing strain to the low back. With weakness in the spinal, abdominal or hip muscles, the amount of force transferred to the back with everyday activities increases. With bending forward, proper body mechanics are often not used and the muscles of the spine have to do extra work. This sets up the person for injury with lifting or even something as simple as bending down to tie one’s shoes.

How physical therapy helps:

Physical therapy is one of the best choices to treat low back pain. By addressing the three main issues, your normal back movement and strength can be restored. Our physical therapists focus on your posture, spinal mobility, strength, flexibility, and your body mechanics. As we observe and measure these indicators, we can detect weak areas, and determine the source of your symptoms.

An individualized plan is then created to address your goals and relieve your lower back pain. We will provide you with education and exercises that will improve your body mechanics and decrease your risk for future back pain. If you are suffering with low back pain, call Optimal Physical Therapy today for back pain relief that will get you back to your favorite activities.

About Mid back pain

Mid back pain refers to pain in the “thoracic” spine. This is the area from the shoulders to the waist. Pain in this area can be for a variety of reasons, but typically occurs from poor posture. With slouched posture, your back muscles stretch out and there is increased stress on the joints of your spine. 

Pain in the mid back can feel like an ache, burning, or sometimes shooting sensation. At times, pain can even feel like it is radiating under the shoulder blade. 

How physical therapy helps:

Physical therapy is very important in treating mid back pain. Our physical therapists work with you to discover the areas of your spine that may not be moving correctly. This limitation in movement can cause strain on the sections above and below that affected area. By improving spinal joint mobility, strengthening weak muscles, and restoring proper alignment, your mid back pain can be relieved.

We provide you with education about proper strengthening exercises and postural techniques to perform at home to maintain your gains in therapy. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to discover how we can relieve your mid back pain and return to your daily activities.

What is Sciatica?

The sciatic nerve begins at your lower back and then splits at the base of your spine to extend further down to your buttocks, legs, and finally to the bottom of each foot. When the sciatic nerve becomes “pinched,” it can cause radiating pain, “shooting,” “stinging,” or “burning” in your lower back, buttocks, legs, or feet. Many different types of injuries can cause the development of sciatica, including arthritis, bone spurs, or any other injury that impacts the sciatic nerve. 

How physical therapy helps: 

Physical therapy is one of the best treatments for sciatica and radiating pain. Our physical therapists will perform an initial evaluation assessing the spine, hips, and legs. Measurements and hands on techniques will be used to  assess range of motion, strength, and joint mobility. After we determine the root cause of your symptoms, we comprise a comprehensive plan to relieve your pain and help you to prevent future re-injury. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to find out how we can relieve your sciatica and radiating leg pain, returning you to the activities you love.

What is Spinal Arthritis?

The lower back takes a tremendous strain throughout our lifetime, supporting the body, moving, sitting, and performing repetitive motions. In addition to these contributing factors, arthritis can also affect the spine in the lower back.

With abnormal forces on the back, the cartilage on the joints at each level of the spine can rub down resulting in increased wear, build up of bone, and eventually bone rubbing on bone. This can result in painful movement of the spinal joints and chronic, achy pain in the low back. Much like an arthritic knee, the spinal joints are helped through restoring natural movement, improving support from the supporting muscles, and proper posture.

What is Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal Stenosis is a condition that typically goes hand in hand with spinal arthritis. Spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the central spinal canal or the canals where the nerves exit the spine to the lower legs (called foramen). These canals are made up of overlapping spinal bones (vertebrae). With degeneration of the spinal joints, collapsing of the disc between the vertebrae, or abnormal bone growth, these canals can narrow. This leads to rubbing and eventually pressure on the nerves, which can cause pain and radiating symptoms.

How physical therapy helps:

Physical therapy can have a very positive effect on patients with spinal arthritis and stenosis. While our physical therapists cannot revert the changes to your spine due to arthritis, we can restore more natural movement to the spinal joints, improve flexibility, improve spinal muscle strength, and provide education about correct posture and prevention techniques.

With a successful course of physical therapy you can do more, with less pain. Often, our patients report significant reduction in pain and improvement in daily activities within weeks of beginning physical therapy. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to find out more about how we can help you have pain relief from spinal stenosis.

What is Herniated or Bulging Disc?

A disc is a fluid filled sac that acts as a cushion between the bones of your neck (vertebrae). Your discs change as you age, drying out and becoming more brittle. In addition, as the discs dry out with age, the change in height between the vertebrae decreases, causing changes in posture and motion. In younger adults, the center of the disc (nucleus) is held in place by many rings of the disc (picture a cross section of a tree trunk). With minor or major injuries, poor posture, and stress, these rings can rupture allowing a pressing outward of the disc nucleus. Finally, as the nucleus reaches the outer edges, the disc can begin to bulge, which in turn can rub and irritate nerve roots exiting your spine.

In more severe cases, the disc can become herniated, which further presses into the spaces where nerves are exiting. Symptoms can range from localized pain to numbness/tingling radiating from the neck to the shoulder, arm or hand. In more severe cases, complete lack of sensation, muscle weakness, and paralysis of an area of the upper extremity can occur.

How physical therapy helps:

The good news is that the majority of bulging and herniated discs can be treated conservatively with physical therapy. By understanding your medical history, symptoms, and performing an assessment of your neck, our physical therapists can determine what areas are causing your pain. 

A personalized plan is created to relieve your symptoms by reducing pressure on the disc through improving joint function, muscle strength, and posture. Our physical therapists work with you to recover lost strength and range of motion. In addition, we then provide you with exercises to maintain good posture and reduce the risk of future episodes. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to discover how we can help relieve your pain quickly and restore your function.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a common condition as people age and tends to affect more men than women over the age of 40. Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bones due to the change in calcium depositing and uptake. As we age, this cycle tends to take out more calcium than is put into our bones. Common areas for osteoporosis are in the spine and hips.

Osteoporosis makes people more susceptible to fractures from ordinary activities.  The most common type of fracture due to osteoporosis is a compression fracture. A lot can be done to address osteoporosis and improve bone strength such as resistance exercises, medication, a good walking program, and proper nutrition.

How physical therapy helps:

Since strengthening is a critical part of osteoporosis management, physical therapists are experts in preparing coordinated, easy-to-do exercise programs. Often, people with osteoporosis will also have limited spinal and hip movement, which increases the stresses on bones. Physical therapists are experts at treating these limitations and restoring your body to a more optimum state.

We work in conjunction with your doctor to create a program specific to you, with a focus on strength, flexibility and injury prevention. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to discover how we can help your osteoporosis.

What is Spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis occurs when a bone (vertebrae) within the spine fractures, causing one bone (vertebrae) to slip forward relative to the rest of the spine. Typically, this slippage forward is found in the lower vertebrae within the spine. The fracture resulting in slippage can be due to trauma or overuse, such as participation in sports that require repetitive hyperextension of the spine such as gymnastics and diving. 

Symptoms can range from a mild ache to severe pain if there is compression on the nerves exiting the spine. Many people experience symptoms that are within the mild to moderate category that can be stabilized with improved posture and muscle strengthening. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to fuse the area and bring stability back.

How physical therapy helps:

We work with you and your physician to create an individualized program to strengthen key muscles in order to stabilize the spine and provide education on the proper techniques to maintain spinal stability. We also address any other factors such as hip weakness or muscle tightness that may be impacting your symptoms. Physical therapy can help treat the source of the pain and get you back to feeling great. In the event that surgery is necessary, we will be with you every step of the way to ensure a thorough recovery. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to set up an initial evaluation.

What are Degenerative Diseases?

Degenerative diseases of the spine fall under the categories of Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) or Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). In the spine, this is typically due to age and genetics. The wearing down of the joints or discs causes loss in normal height of the bony segments in the spine. This can cause excessive joint pressures, bone rubbing on bone, and increased inflammation. Typically with DDD or DJD, stiffening of the spinal joints and weakening of key spinal muscles can occur.

How physical therapy helps:

While the degenerative process cannot be reversed, there is a lot that can be done to improve mobility, reduce pain, improve strength and function. Physical therapy is the ideal, non-invasive treatment. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to discover how we can help your back pain and return you to the activities you love.

About Compression Fractures

Compression fractures in the lower back typically occur in older individuals and those suffering from osteoporosis. However, with severe trauma, such as in an accident, the force can cause a compression fracture in the bones of the spine (vertebrae). There are many minimally invasive surgical procedures today that can stabilize the broken area, such as kyphoplasty.

The goal with managing compression fractures is to stabilize pieces of bone from moving around and allow time for the bone to heal. The symptoms of a compression fracture can be quite painful. Difficulty with getting in and out of bed, up and down from a chair, and even difficulty walking can be experienced.

How physical therapy helps:

Our physical therapists work with your physician’s protocols for compression fractures. Based on your symptoms, we work with you to rehabilitate your spinal movement and strength. Our physical therapists have experience in helping patients with back injuries and will work with you to relieve your pain, improve your mobility, rebuild strength, and help you return to normal activities as soon as possible. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to discover how we can help you relieve your back pain and get back to normal activities.

About Post-surgery Rehab

There are many surgical procedures for the lower back including discectomies, laminectomies, and spinal fusions. The goal of most of these surgeries is to bring stability to the area and remove structures relieve that may be pressing on the exiting nerves from lateral canals. 

How physical therapy helps:

Physical therapy plays a critical role in recovery after low back surgeries. We work closely with your physician to ensure that we follow the surgical protocols in your recovery. Typically, the first phase is to help with pain-relief and education in the proper movement to protect your surgery site while healing occurs. As your physician clears you for more activities, gentle hands-on therapy and exercise for the legs, hips, abdominals, and supporting muscles begin. 

As you heal and your surgery protocol allows, strengthening exercises are progressed to include stabilization exercises to rehabilitate your core muscles that support your spine. Physical therapy interventions will also help to improve your ability to walk, balance, and move safely. The goal is to reduce your back pain, protect your spine during recovery, and properly rehabilitate your spine to allow you to return to normal activities. Call Optimal Physical Therapy before and after spinal surgery.