ADHD: A Parenting Guide

Active Therapy and Passive Therapy for Chronic Lower Back Pain: Why Both Treatment Methods Are Important for Healing

If you suffer from chronic lower back pain, you may have looked into physical therapy as a treatment option. It's a more conservative approach than surgery, and physical therapy alone can be very effective at substantially reducing lower back pain. If the cause of your pain is skeletal, strengthening your muscles through physical therapy can help take weight away from your spine. If the cause of your pain is muscular, stretching and exercising your muscles can boost blood flow and help them heal more quickly.

When undergoing physical therapy for your lower back pain, you'll be exposed to both active therapy and passive therapy. They work in concert to strengthen your back and help reduce pain. To learn the difference between the two treatment approaches and how they complement each other for quicker results, read on.

Active Therapy

Active therapy involves stretching and strengthening muscles by performing exercises, and it's what most people think of when they think of a physical therapy regimen. For treating lower back pain, active therapy is very important because it helps make the muscles surrounding your lumbar spine stronger.

Stronger muscles can bear more weight on their own, which means that you'll place less stress on your lumbar spine when you're sitting or standing. Stronger muscles can also bear weight for longer periods of time without becoming fatigued, which helps to ward off back pain due to tired, tense muscles in your lower back.

Stretching your muscles through active therapy exercises can help correct anatomical problems that cause lower back pain. For example, many people suffer from lower back pain because the muscles in their hips (such as the gluteus maximus) are too tight. Tight hip muscles tug on the muscles in your lower back, which stretches and strains them. Lengthening and relaxing your hip muscles through gentle stretching exercises reduces the strain on your lower back, which helps alleviate pain.

Active therapy is also important for changing the way that you experience pain, which is an often-neglected component of pain relief. Many people who suffer from lower back pain restrict their movements subconsciously in an attempt to avoid pain. Unfortunately, a lack of movement leads to muscles becoming tight, and unused muscles will eventually weaken. Gentle stretching exercises will help you re-learn that you can move without experiencing lower back pain, which helps stop your muscles from atrophying due to lack of movement.

Passive Therapy

Passive therapy refers to procedures that you have done to you rather than exercises that you perform on your own. When undergoing passive therapy, a physical therapist may alternate placing heat packs and cold compresses on your lower back in order to cause your muscles to expand and contract in response to the change in temperature. This boosts blood flow and helps stretch your muscles without the need for exercise.

Another form of passive therapy is electrical stimulation, which causes muscles to contract. Repeated contraction is what makes muscles stronger, so electrical stimulation can help strengthen muscles without the need for you to move them on your own.

Why Are Both Important for Treating Lower Back Pain?

Passive and active therapy both play an important role in helping alleviate lower back pain, and using both as part of your program will help boost your results. Passive therapy's main benefit is that it requires no action on your part in order to stretch and strengthen muscles. If you have severe lower back pain and are unable to perform even gentle exercises without experiencing tremendous pain, passive therapy can help alleviate your pain without the need for movement.

With your pain reduced, you're in a better position to begin an active therapy program, which helps you continue to stretch and strengthen your muscles. Even if you don't need passive therapy in order to begin active therapy, passive therapy is still helpful due to the fact that it's able to boost blood flow to the muscles in your lower back, which can help them heal and recover quicker after a muscle strain. In addition, electrical stimulation can help strengthen muscles that are difficult to target with traditional exercises.

Overall, combining both approaches is often the best choice for quickly alleviating lower back pain through stretching and strengthening the muscles in your lower back. If you suffer from chronic lower back pain and don't know where to start, find a clinic in your area that combines both active and passive methods for back pain therapy. By exercising on your own with an active therapy regimen and receiving additional support through passive therapy procedures, you'll have the greatest chance of quickly reducing the level of back pain that you experience.