Do you experience back and neck pain?
Or abnormal rounding of the back and shoulders?
Pain and weakness which radiates to the arms and legs?
If so, these are all signs you may have a medical issue which affects the spinal column.
Your spine is the core of your body. Because it’s so intimately related with so many different parts, spinal injuries or conditions can significantly impact your quality of life.
However, there are physical therapy treatments which can help.
As physical therapists servicing Washington DC and surrounding area, at Capitol Physical Therapy we can help you address spinal issues.
Keep reading to learn more about some of the spinal issues we can help with.
Physical Therapy Treatments For Scoliosis
Scoliosis is a spine condition which is generally found in children and teens.
It is fairly common, with approximately three million new cases diagnosed every year.
The spine has a natural curvature to it, which looks like an “S” shape from the side. If you’re looking at a spine from the side, the neck and lumbar areas should curve slightly forward, and the thoracic spine curves slightly towards the back.
If the spine curves side-to-side in an “S” shape or a “C” shape it could be a sign of scoliosis. Scoliosis is often diagnosed early in a child’s life, and regular check-ups are needed to monitor the progression of the disease over time.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of scoliosis include:
- Chronic pain
- Back pain
- Rotation of the spine
- Hips and waist which are uneven
- Shoulder blades which are uneven/one higher than the other
- Difficulty breathing due to inability to fully expand the lungs
- A general asymmetry of the body
- Pelvis, hip, and shoulder pain
In many cases the cause of scoliosis is difficult to pinpoint.
When the cause is known, it is often due to one of the following reasons:
- Infections or injuries of the spine
- Spinal bifida or other birth defects which impact the bones
- Muscular dystrophy
- Cerebral palsy
- Genetic factors
- Neurological issues
The specific treatment for scoliosis will depend on a variety of factors, including age, the severity of the curvature, and whether you are fully grown or continuing to grow.When visiting a physical therapist, common methods of treatment include:
- Strength training
- Functional training
- Manual therapy
- Range of motion exercises
- Education and information
These therapies are often used in conjunction with treatments such as bracing or surgery.
The goals of these therapies and treatments are to prevent further curvature of the spine and maintain strength and mobility.
Physical Therapy Treatments For Cervical Dystonia
A much rarer condition than scoliosis is cervical dystonia, or spasmodic torticollis.
Cervical dystonia is a painful condition in which the neck muscles involuntarily contract, resulting in the head twisting to one side.
Next we will take a closer look at physical therapy for this condition.
Cervical dystonia consists of muscle contractions in the neck, which results in twisting of the head in a number of different ways, including:
- Moving the chin down
- Moving the chin up
- Bringing the ear towards the shoulder
- Bringing the chin towards the shoulder
The cause of cervical dystonia is largely unknown.
It can appear in some individuals who have suffered head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
There may also be a genetic component.
Other risk factors can include age – it tends to be more common in people over 30, and sex – it generally appears more frequently in cisgender women than in men. This makes it both a physical therapy women’s health issue, and a physical therapy for seniors’ health issue.
Treatment for cervical dystonia is focused on relieving its symptoms.
General practices which can help provide treatment for this condition can include:
- Weight training to strengthen target muscle groups
- Stress reduction techniques
- Body awareness to practice proper posture
- Maintaining proper ergonomics and alignment through use of aids such as keyboard trays
- Developing a regular exercise program
Physical Therapy Treatments For Sciatica
One of the more frustrating spinal issues physical therapy can help with is sciatica.
Pain management for this disorder is paramount, as it can be debilitating in extreme cases.
It’s also one of the most common spinal issues physical therapy can help with. A Harvard Health article estimated that as many as 40% of people will deal with sciatica at some point in their lives.
Let’s take a closer look.
Your sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It begins in your spine, travels down your hips and buttocks, and splits in two where it travels down each leg.
Sciatica is an injury or pressure to your sciatic nerve, which frequently causes pain. Because your sciatic nerve is so large, this can manifest itself in pain or numbness along any point of your body that it touches.
As mentioned above, sciatica can result in pain and numbness. Beyond that, you may experience:
- Weakness in your legs or feet
- Loss of feeling in your legs and feet
- Loss of strength of legs and/or feet
- Painful tingling in your feet
- Bowel incontinence
- Urinary incontinence
Sciatica is caused by pressure or damage to your sciatic nerve.
How that damage occurs, however, can vary.
Causes and risk factors can include:
- Herniated disks
- Injuries, including sports injuries and workplace injuries
- Spinal stenosis
There are a number of different physical therapy treatments for sciatica that can help.
The main focus is on relieving the pain it causes as well as allowing your sciatic nerve to heal.
Depending on your condition, your physical therapist may recommend:
- Hot & cold therapy
- Therapeutic massage
- Stretches & exercises
- Dry needling
Using a combination of any of the above can help you regain your full movement and strength, as well as relieve the pain your sciatica is causing.
Physical Therapy Exercises For Spinal Issues
As you can see, there are a wide variety of different issues that can affect your spine, and a variety of physical therapy treatments for spinal issues that can help.
One common treatment we use is to provide physical therapy exercises for spinal issues.
We can provide physical therapy exercises for a variety of different conditions including:
- Physical therapy exercises for scoliosis
- Physical therapy exercises for spinal stenosis
- Physical therapy exercises for lowerback pain
- Neck exercises for cervical stenosis
- Exercises for cervical radiculopathy
- Exercises for degenerative disc disease
- Exercises for herniated discs
- And more
Physical Therapy For Other Spinal Issues
Other spinal issues we can help with include:
- Herniated disc
- Spinal fractures
- Spinal stenosis
- Kyphosis (excessive rounding of the upper back)
- Disc degeneration
- And many more
Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy
Have you noticed an irregular posture in your child and you want to get it checked out by a professional?
Or perhaps you’ve noticed spinal issues and radiating pain which you want to get checked out yourself.
If you have symptoms related to your spine or back which are concerning to you, Capitol Physical Therapy can help.
One of our qualified physical therapists will meet with you to learn more about your lifestyle, background and the source of any concerns you may have.
Contact us today for more information or to book an appointment.