5 Common Reasons for Back Pain and How Physical Therapy Can Help

Back pain can start suddenly following an accident, after a fall or subsequent to lifting a heavy item. It can also result from a slow progression of degenerative changes, arthritis or because of some other ailment. The reason an individual has back pain and his or her symptoms determines which treatment a physical therapist at Therapeutic Potentials, Inc., (TPI) chooses to help the patient find relief, heal and improve his or her mobility.

The 5 Most Common Causes of Back Pain

1. Injuries from Falls, Accidents and Improper Lifting

Strained or sprained ligaments and muscles, including muscle spasms, typically result from a sudden awkward movement, lifting with the back instead of the legs, as well as from injuries sustained during a fall or while participating in physically demanding activities.

2. Structural Problems

Disks provide cushioning between the vertebrae. If a disk bulges or ruptures, additional pressure may be placed on a nearby nerve, which results in back and nerve pain. Furthermore, if the curve of the spine is unusual, back pain is likely. For example, people with scoliosis have a spinal column that curves to the side. This curvature places pressure on the nerves, causing nerve and back pain.

3. Poor Posture and Movement

Sitting hunched forward can lead to an increase in neck and back pain because it places additional pressure on these areas. Many people tend to sit this way while working on their computer or driving down the road. Other common activities that can cause pain include pushing, pulling, carrying or lifting something, as well as twisting or bending awkwardly. Even sleeping on a mattress that does not support the spinal column can lead to back pain as well.

4. Joint Issues

Arthritis can affect the joints of the lower back and hips. Osteoarthritis also causes spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord. Once this space narrows, additional pressure may be placed on the nerves, leading to pain.

5. Other Medical Issues

Since osteoporosis makes the joints more brittle and porous, the likelihood of a compression fracture increases. Cancer of the spine, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), kidney stones as well as bladder infections can all cause pain in the back.

Physical Therapy Treatments at TPI for Back Pain

To reduce pain, promote healing and improve mobility, a physical therapist uses a variety of treatments. The type and reason for the pain determines which physical therapy (PT) treatments a patient receives.

Muscle and Soft Tissue Treatments at TPI


This modality brings blood to the area to help with the healing process. It also relaxes the muscles.


Cryotherapy reduces inflammation and decreases pain. During the initial 48 hours of sustaining an injury, only ice should be used. After that, the patient switches back and forth between ice and heat.

Therapeutic Ultrasound

This modality sends warmth deep into the tissues, again to bring blood to the area and aid in the healing process.

Electrical Muscle Stimulation Therapy (E-Stim)

E-Stim therapy sends electrical pulses to the injured area to promote blood flow and healing or to reduce pain.

  • Electrical Muscle Stimulation Unit (EMS) – when an EMS unit is used, the muscles contract rhythmically. The goal with EMS is to strengthen the muscles and bring blood to the area.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Unit (TENS) – a TENS unit also uses small electrical pulses to flood the nervous system, which reduces its ability to send pain signals to the brain.

Active Release Techniques (ART)

With this therapeutic technique, the therapist breaks down restrictions and adhesions to restore soft tissue mobility.

Proprioceptive Training and Balance Skills

This therapy helps people who have issues with stability and is highly beneficial for patients who have sustained injuries due to a fall.

Sports Medicine Rehabilitation

The therapy a patient receives depends on the type of injury he or she has.

Postural and Neuromuscular Re-education

This therapy helps improve the patient’s movement, coordination and posture.

Hands On Stretching and Strengthening

Once the patient’s pain decreases, therapeutic exercises to improve flexibility and strength exercises may be implemented.

Joint Mobilization May Also Be Helpful

This modality focuses on improving a joint’s range of motion and reducing the patient’s pain level.

These are just some of the therapies available at Therapeutic Potentials, Inc. If you are in pain, need assistance recovering from a stroke or surgical procedure, or you would just like to improve your range of motion, contact TPI today to schedule an appointment with one of our dedicated, highly skilled and compassionate therapists.

TPI has physical therapy offices in Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota, Florida. To make an appointment by phone, please call 941-758-3140. To schedule an appointment online, please click here.

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