In spondylosis (spinal osteoathritis), your spinal joints don’t move as well as they used to because of age-related changes in your spine, similar to arthritis. This can make it very painful to move because of decreased mobility within the spine itself. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy as part of your treatment plan because a physical therapist can help you maintain and increase mobility, learn ways to reduce pain, strengthen your spinal muscles so that they better support your spine, and stretch muscles that may be increasing nerve compression in your spine.
Physical therapy includes both passive and active treatments.
Cold therapy, also called cryotherapy, slows circulation, helping to reduce inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. You may have a cold pack placed upon the target area, or even be given an ice massage. Another cryotherapy option is a spray called fluoromethane that cools the tissues. After cold therapy, your therapist may work with you to stretch the affected muscles.
In the active part of physical therapy, your therapist will teach you various exercises to improve your flexibility, strength, core stability, and range of motion (how easily your joints move). Your physical therapy program is individualized, taking into consideration your health and history. Because your PT program is so individualized, we can’t say what should and shouldn’t be in your plan; again, your physical therapist will decide that. But we can generally say that you may learn about body mechanics—how to move your body so that you don’t increase your pain. You’ll learn how to avoid positions that exacerbate your pain. You may also learn about correcting your posture and how to use good ergonomics at work.
Exercise may also be a part of your personalized program. Your physical therapist will help you develop an exercise routine that incorporates elements like range of motion exercise, strength work, and cardio.
The active treatment portion of physical therapy helps you learn “self-care.” Self-care empowers you to take better care of your body through good habits and principles.
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