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Back & Neck Rehabilitation

More than 12 million Americans will visit their doctor this year with complaints of back or neck pain.

Todd Salvo, PT performs Manual Back & Neck Rehabilitation on a patientOver 80% of the population will experience neck or back pain at least once in their lives. Manual physical therapy is a specialized form of physical therapy delivered with the hands rather than with a device or a machine. By using joint mobilization to improve joint mobility and normalize movement, in conjunction with a trunk stabilization and core strengthening program, pain is decreased and function is improved. This approach is successful in treating both acute and chronic forms of neck and back pain.

Todd Salvo, PT is our back and neck specialist. His approach and techniques were acquired from extensive continuing education courses from the University of St. Augustine.

Conditions of the Spine

Spinal Stenosis
Spinal Stenosis is a medical condition in which the spinal canal and or the opening between two adjacent vertebrae narrows causing compression on the spinal nerves an sometimes the spinal cord. This is usually due to the common occurrence of spine degeneration that occurs gradually with aging. Common symptoms include pain that is exacerbated by walking and static standing. Symptoms can be localized to the back but usually travels down on or both legs.

Treatment of this condition usually includes stretching the muscles of the back and strengthening the abdominal muscles in order to increase the opening between two adjacent vertebrae therefore relieving the compression on the nerve. Being that the degeneration changes that causes this condition cannot be reversed it is important that the patient continues exercising after therapy is over in order to control their symptoms.

This condition occurs when one or more vertebrae slip forward on one another. The causes of this slippage include stress fractures (spondylolysis,) degenerative causes (aging) or congenital (you are born with it.) It tends to occur in adolescent athletes. The stress fracture occurs because the body is unable to keep up with repairing the damage caused by repetitive force. This condition may or may not cause symptoms.

Common signs and symptoms include a dull ache in the low back that gets worse with hyperextension of the back, muscle spasms of the low back muscles, tightness of the hamstring muscles, pain, numbness or weakness affecting one or both legs.

Any sport that causes hyperextension (arching of the back) either excessively or with rotation can increase the risk of getting this condition. Common sports include; football, gymnastics, diving, weight lifting, and contact sports. Preventative measures include proper warm up and stretching before competition. Appropriate conditioning includes; back and hamstring flexibility, back muscle strength and endurance and using proper technique with sports.

Physical therapy is helpful with providing a conditioning program including stretching, core strengthening and trunk stabilization program in order to protect the injury and limit progression.

Cervical Sprain/Strain (Whiplash)
Whiplash is an injury to the neck that is caused when the head is forcefully whipped forward and /or backward. Muscles, ligaments, tendons, discs and nerves are structures that may be involved in an injury such as this. Symptoms include pain or stiffness in the front and back of the neck usually occurring immediately after the trauma or up to 24 hours following the injury. Other symptoms include headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Muscle spasms are also experienced sometimes.

This injury is usually curable in one week to three months depending on how severe it is, with appropriate treatment.

Initial treatment usually consists of medications and ice to decrease pain. Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises including postural exercises and activity modifications are also prescribed. Physical therapy is recommended for both acute and chronic cases.

Low Back Sprain
This is a low back injury usually caused by stress on a ligament that temporarily forces the vertebrae (bones of the spine) or pelvis out of its normal position. These ligaments are important in maintaining the stability of the spinal column and therefore the ability to stand upright.

The common signs and symptoms include low back pain, sometimes a feeling of popping, snapping or tearing can be felt at the time of injury. Muscle spasms may also occur after spraining the low back.

Initial treatment of the back includes rest, ice, and medication prescribed by your doctor. As the pain and muscle spasms decrease, physical therapy is recommended to improve strength and stabilization of the back in order to provide muscle support to the damaged ligaments.

Low Back Strain
This is a back injury caused to the muscles and or tendons of the lower back. The commons signs and symptoms include pain that usually only affects the one side and pain that increases with movement. With back strains pain can be felt in the back, hip, buttocks, and even radiate into the back of the thigh. Other symptoms include muscle spasms in the back, swelling along the involved muscle and loss of strength.

Initial treatment of the back includes rest, ice, and medication prescribed by your doctor. As the pain and muscle spasms decrease, physical therapy is recommended to improve strength and stabilization of the back in order to provide muscle support to the damaged ligaments.

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