ZocdocAnswersShould I receive physical therapy for a chronic back pain condition?

Question

Should I receive physical therapy for a chronic back pain condition?

I am a 51 year old female who has had chronic back pain for probably 10 years. I am on my feet constantly at work and tasks throughout the day include heavy lifting. I am wondering if seeing a physical therapist might help me strengthen my back muscles and will allow me to perform tasks in a less straining manner at work. I am currently on over the counter drugs for pain control, but I have not been prescribed any type of pain medication.

Answer

Chronic back pain can be a debilitating condition, and this effects many Americans each year. Heavy lifting, working on your feet all day, and poor posture can exacerbate this condition. There are many options available for treatment and alleviation of your symptoms. Physical therapy is an excellent way to strengthen the muscles of your back as well as teach you good posture and stretching techniques. Other methods to alleviate the symptoms of chronic back pain are NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, acupuncture, massage therapy, heat and cold compresses. Surgical options are also available in certain patients who fail medical therapy and have pathology noted on imaging studies that is amenable to surgery. Be careful though, because back surgery can have its own set of complications and brings about its own pain issues. It is impossible to properly evaluate you without a clinical exam and evaluation of your medical history, so it is important that you visit your primary care doctor who will be able to examine your medical history, presenting symptoms, and decide upon the appropriate work up. This may or may not include imaging studies such as an MRI, a trial of steroids or other medications to help with the pain, as well as a referral to a physical therapist.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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