Physical Therapy Topics

Physical therapy topics include descriptions of treatment techniques such as Ultrasound, Iontophoresis, TENS Units, ice packs, and heat packs, passive physical therapy, and active physical therapy.

Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain Relief: To be honest with you, we have to tell you that what's done is done. Many arthritic conditions and degenerative disc changes to the soft tissues of the lumbar spine are irreversible. This means that when joint cartilage and the size of the disc spaces have been lost, they are will not be coming back. Even if you stop smoking now, eat healthier, and exercise more frequently, the discs will not heal themselves back to their youthful properties. In many cases, there's nothing that you can do to grow back damages joint tissues.

But does that mean that as these degenerative changes occur, your pain will never go away and you will have to suffer for the rest of your life? Absolutely not! The way that you feel does not have to be directly related to the health of your lumbar discs and facet joints. There are natural inflammatories that you may consume in your food, and mental treatments that you may use to reduce the experience of pain in your body (see treatments such as distraction and guided imagery). And of course, there is physical therapy.

Physical therapy (PT) for low back pain is the most common treatment that is used, after icing and inflammatory medications. Physical therapy may be used before and after back surgery, and it is expected to improve the symptoms of back pain regardless of cause. This form of therapy is often classified as a nonsurgical conservative back pain treatment. This treatment will be attempted before other more aggressive treatments are considered, such as steroid injections and back surgery. The more aggressive treatment options may be considered if physical therapy fails to offer significant back pain relief.

Physical therapy is categorized into two distinct categories: Passive physical therapy and active physical therapy.



  • Passive physical therapy modalities: Passive PT includes modalities such as electrical stimulation, ice packs, heat application, and massage. T patient usually sits or lies in a comfortable position while a therapist applies these treatments. These may be used before or after active physical treatment sessions, possibly to get the muscles loose and flexible for the stretching and strengthening sessions.

    Examples of passive physical therapy modalities include Ultrasound, Iontophoresis, TENS Units, ice packs, and heat packs.
  • Active physical therapy: For these exercise modalities, patients take an active role in healing their bodies, by moving their bodies against gravity or a resistance. The goal of these exercises is to eliminate muscle imbalances, inflexibility, and weakness. These exercises focus on stretching and strengthening. Though we may not make degenerative changes in the body go away, we may strengthen the muscles that support the lower back to the point that conditions such as lumbar disc disease no longer bother us.

    Examples of active physical therapy modalities include stretching, strengthening exercises, and low impact aerobic conditioning.

Low impact aerobic conditioning exercises may be considered to be appropriate for patients who need to build strength and flexibility around their lumbar spine but who may be vulnerable to further injuring themselves by using more high impact maneuvers, such as running and weight training.

What is Iontophoresis? In our living body, there are millions of electrical events occurring each second to send nerve signals and to pull chemicals and nutrients back and forth across the membranes of our cells. These electro-chemical processes are both beneficial and necessary towards the maintenance of life.

These electrical actions in our bodies occur internally, with or without any influence to the external environment. Doctors and therapist now believe that we may be able treat musculoskeletal diseases through the use of a device that delivers positive charges of electricity towards damaged joints and discs. Iontophoresis involves the delivery of chemicals or electrical energy through the skin. Iontophoresis drives chemicals or electrical force through the skin without the use of creams, patches, or hypodermic needles.