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physical therapy for back pain

When you are seen at one of our Penn Spine Center locations, you will first be navigated through a care pathway that involves implementing conservative treatments.

Typically surgery is not needed to relieve back pain. Back and neck pain can often be successfully treated with a combination of focused physical therapy, pain medications, and when necessary, spinal injections. For some, back and neck pain can be healed at home, using simple treatments and by adjusting body mechanics. Others may eventually need surgery. Your physician will recommend surgical treatment if non-surgical approaches do not work.

Your treatment plan will be individually selected based on your needs and goals for therapy. Our physical therapists and pain psychologists will work one-on-one with you to keep you moving and take your mind off any pain.

Managing Back and Neck Pain

Non-surgical treatment may include a combination of:

  • Activity modification
  • Exercise
  • Relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and mindful meditation
  • The use of medications
  • Interventional techniques such as nerve blocks (spinal injections)
  • Epidural injections in the lumbar and cervical spine
  • Nerve killing procedures such as radiofrequency ablation
  • Infusion pumps that deliver medications straight into the spinal canal (used mostly for cancer pain)
  • Kyphoplasty, which is a procedure where cement is injected to repair vertebral compression fractures
  • Neuromodulation, which involves spinal cord stimulators
  • Behavioral medicine techniques
  • Physical therapy
  • Fluoroscopic-guided (X-ray) injections
  • Pain psychology
  • Referrals for acupuncture when necessary, as well as counseling on how individuals can implement holistic and wellness lifestyle practices that help alleviate chronic pain

Medication Management

Physical Therapy for Back and Neck Pain

Good Shepherd Penn Partners

At the Penn Spine Center, we believe in empowering patients through a holistic treatment plan that involves exercise, movement and physical therapy. It is common to treat back pain with an active exercise program that teaches postural techniques and biomechanical adjustments to decrease pain and help increase function and mobility.

With this philosophy in mind, Penn Medicine partnered with Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network, resulting in a joint venture known as Good Shepherd Penn Partners (GSPP). GSPP provides patient-centered rehabilitation and post-acute care based on a shared goal of returning you to your highest level of physical functioning and improving your quality of life.

Together, Penn Spine Center doctors and GSPP physical therapists agree on each patient's diagnosis and treatment plan. We create customized treatment plans for all patients with back or neck pain. In addition to determining the mechanical cause behind your back pain, we will work together to assess the entire body and closely monitor your response to therapy in order to change the treatment plan if needed.

Integrated Spine Care

Our integrated electronic system allows everyone involved in your treatment to see the same medical records, notes and general progress in order to ensure seamless care. With this ease of communication, in cases when a patient is not progressing favorably, or if there is a complication, there is an efficient process in place for the physician and physical therapist to quickly decide what the next line of intervention should be.

In addition to physical therapy, we closely monitor pain medication treatment to see if certain medications can help control pain and improve physical and mental functioning. This is not necessarily done through the use of opioids. There are other pain medication options. If needed, we offer addiction treatment to care for people who are dependent on chronic opioid use. We also offer evaluations to help you decide if beginning or continuing use is appropriate. 

Our clinicians are trained in the latest physical therapy techniques including the McKenzie Method, Maitland-based Manual Therapy, Mulligan concepts and various exercise-based treatment therapies.

We also offer a credentialed orthopaedic physical therapy residency where therapists from across the nation learn advanced techniques and skills.

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