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Physical Therapy for back pain

At a Glance

  • Physical therapy is often an alternative if other non-surgical treatments do not resolve a spinal problem.
  • There is typically no set routine in physical therapy, and a physical therapist tailors a treatment program to each patient.
  • Physical therapy treats Sprains and Strains, Herniated Intervertebral Disc, and Spondylolisthesis.
  • A Power Plate apparatus or Gyrontonic exercises are sometimes employed in addition to physical therapy.


Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a popular and often a highly effective alternative, or, supporting therapy after surgery. Physical therapy restores and improves the body’s motion and can help people of all ages and numerous conditions.

In treating spine conditions, physical therapists usually receive instructions in the form of a prescription from a referring physician. They may also be asked to evaluate and treat patients as they feel is best. The frequency and duration of treatments are based on the severity of the problem and degree of disability. The physical therapist is an important component of the health care team.

Physical therapy often requires a series of aided and unaided exercises by the patient, and may include ice/heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation including TNS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), stretching and traction, pool therapy, exercise, aerobics, and massage. These and other treatments are applied in a concentrated and focused manner. Following physical therapy, patients are encouraged to enter an independent exercise program to continue the rehabilitation process.



Gyrotonic is a method of restoring normal motion and alignment of the spine and joints. A special apparatus allows the patient to go through specific motions designed to stretch various muscles groups and restore normal joint function and motion. The exercises done on this device also help re-align the spine and improve posture.

Gyrontonic equipment is commonly seen in Pilates studios, where it is used in conjunction with core stabilization exercises. It is particularly popular with athletes and dancers.

A certified Gyrontonic therapist should administer the treatment. People with severe back problems or previous surgery should not be too aggressive in this treatment program, as excessive motion and stretching may be harmful.

Gyrontonic treats Sprains and Strains.


Power Plate

The Power Plate device works by placing a body area over a flat metal plate vibrating at a certain frequency. The user can also stand on the device. It was developed for the space program to help maintain bone and muscle tone in a weightless environment.

Power Plate instructors are specially trained and certified in the use of this unique piece of equipment.

Advocates of the Power Plate claim that the device accelerates bone density and soft tissue healing. Scientists generally agree that vibration can be a good stimulus to help bone and soft tissue form and heal faster.

However, others might argue that vibration can accelerate the degeneration of the intervertebral disc in a weight bearing setting. People with painful degenerative spine conditions should avoid the use of the Power Plate in the standing or sitting position. Nonetheless, using the Power Plate with arms and legs is generally safe.


Frequently Asked Questions

How does a physical therapist know what therapy will help you?
Can power plate treatment help a degenerative spine condition?
more faqs »