Most patients suffering from back pain in Ottawa arrive at their first physical therapy appointment anticipating receiving ultrasounds, hot packs, and instructions on how to carry out a series of exercises. These modalities are common in many instances and most therapists agree that exercise is necessary to help restore muscle imbalances. Nevertheless, most therapists now approach the restoration of function from a different point of view. These therapists take interest in why a muscle fails to function correctly and look at back exercise not as the driving mode of recovery but as a complement to manual therapy. Treatments for back pain are as different and as diverse as they come. One particular type of treatment that has been in use for low back pain is manual therapy. This is an all-inclusive term used to describe any kind of physical treatment administered by a therapist. When treating back pain, active exercises usually target the back muscles and abdominals.

Manual physical therapy can offer pain relief for acute and chronic back pain

Manual therapy can be useful for the treatment of joints that lack enough mobility and range of motion in particular musculo-skeletal conditions. This can cause alteration in function, pain, and discomfort, movement, and posture. Manual physical therapy entails restoring mobility to stiff joints and decreasing muscle tension to return the patient to a more natural movement without any physical pain. As such, manual physical therapy may provide back pain relief for patients with acute back pain from soft tissue injuries and chronic back problem involving joint problems. While comprehensive clinical studies have not concluded, patient reports and limited clinical data support the allegation that manual physical therapy can be effective in relieving back pain for particular patients.

Manual physical therapy has less recognition for back pain management

Although all physical therapists have the option to use manual therapy in their practice, most of them do not spend the resources or time to become more efficient in this area of practice. Patients should know that it is a lesser-known physical therapy technique among therapists and may not be prescribe as commonly. Furthermore, most of the conditions that therapists treat with manual therapy do not come out in lab tests or imaging but rather during motion testing and treatment. Therefore, insurance company compensation may be limited. While primary care doctors and orthopedic surgeons may refer their patients with back pains, most states have direct access laws that permit patients to seek help for low back pain from licensed physical therapists without having to seek written referrals.

Convenient and fast relief at home

Manual physical therapy techniques as a group aim at relaxing restricted joints and tense back muscles in order to reduce back pain and increase flexibility. Generally, manual physical therapy techniques employ the following types of movement.

  • Soft tissue work- This includes massage which applies pressure to the soft tissues of the body such as the muscles. This pressure is helpful in circulation, relaxing muscles, breaking up scar tissue, and relieving pain in soft tissues.
  • Manipulation and mobilization- Here, the therapist uses measured movements of varying speed, force, and distance to push, pull, or twist joints and bones into position. This can help loosen tight tissues around joints, decrease pain in a joint, and help with alignment and flexibility.

When it comes to back pain, manual therapy plays an important role. Back pain is a disabling and common disorder representing a great burden to both the society and individual. It usually results to time lost, medical expenses, and reduced quality of life. The effectiveness of manual therapy hugely relies on the therapist’s expertise so if you are looking for one in Ottawa, their training and experience is something you should seriously consider. Future research is likely to come up with newer and advanced methods of manual therapy for back pain so it only gets better.


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