The spine is a vital structure of the human body. Spinal trauma or disease, can cause functional deficits, pain and loss of movement. Over 70% of the U.S population will experience pain and functional loss or limitations due to a spinal condition. Symptoms can be localized in the spinal area or can be felt in the arms or legs. The symptoms can vary but the most common are pain, weakness, numbness and tingling. With some spinal conditions bowel and bladder control can also be affected.
There is wide variety of factors or causes that contribute to spinal dysfunction. Poor posture or postural stress disorder(PSD) , lack of exercise or conditioning and being overweight are some of the common causes. In addition, spinal sprains can result from performing certain activities incorrectly or repetitively such as when bending, lifting, standing or sitting. Spinal injury can also result from a traumatic incident such as falling, motor vehicle accident or from a sporting/athletic injury.
Herniated and bulging discs or stenosis can cause severe spinal pain and radiating pain into the arms or legs. Common symptoms are pain, numbness, tingling and weakness. In the lumbar spine, it often causes sciatica which is pain often radiating pain below the knee commonly in one leg or can be both legs. Spondylolithesis is a forward or backward slippage of one vertebra over the other, causing instability and pressure on spinal nerves.
Patient education is a major part of physical therapy treatment for spinal dysfunction. At Total Care Physical Therapy we educate our patient’s proper posture in standing, sitting and lying. In addition, Ergonomics, having proper functional design and arrangement of work or home furniture to lessen postural stresses and improve spinal alignment and minimize occurrence of spinal related problems.
Manual therapy techniques may include spinal mobilization, Mckenzie treatment method, myofascial release, muscle energy techniques and postural training. Various physical modalities such as ice, heat, ultrasound and electrical stimulation may be incorporated in the treatment protocol.
Finally, a tailored home exercise program is a very important part of the treatment protocol for each patient. Stretching and stabilization exercises are included to increase core strength for lumbar pain. Scapular stabilization and stretching exercises are included for thoracic and neck pain.