Physical Therapy for Spine and Back Pain

Physical Therapy for Spine and Back Pain

A physical therapist works with a patient at MedStar Health.

Physical therapy is proven effective at reducing pain and improving mobility in patients with back and spine pain. Our spine therapists are expertly trained and experienced in treatment methods and techniques unique to spine care and will develop a treatment plan that is customized to you and your needs. Physical therapy can improve quality of life and reduce the need for surgical intervention, medications, and/or injections for many patients. Our team of therapists also aim to reduce the likelihood of future injury through education and a sustainable home exercise program upon completion of care.

What to expect

On your first visit, one of our specialty-trained spine physical therapists will perform a thorough evaluation. This includes a series of assessments and screenings to determine areas of pain, discomfort, muscle weakness, and dysfunction. Based on your results, your therapist will construct an individualized treatment plan that may include manual therapy, manipulation, exercise, and/or modalities, such as electrical stimulation and dry needling. The frequency and duration of treatment will be determine based on your medical necessity. Our administrative team does an excellent job in assisting you with insurance coverage.

Depending on your injury or condition, most patients with musculoskeletal pain should see an improvement in pain and function in the first few weeks. Some conditions may require longer treatment periods due to healing or other factors.

Our locations

Convenient locations in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Maryland, and Virginia.

Call 844-914-3878 to find a spine therapist specialist near you.

Risk assessment

Depend on us for expert neck and spine care.

It’s time to stop letting neck or back pain keep you from doing the activities you love. Take our free spine health risk assessment by clicking on your preferred region (Central Maryland region or Washington, DC region) to determine your risk for spine issues and what we can do to help.

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  • How can physical therapy help me?

    Reducing pain and inflammation: Physical therapists can use a variety of techniques to reduce pain and inflammation, such as massage, heat therapy, and electrical stimulation. They can also teach you exercises that can help to stretch and strengthen your muscles, which can also help to reduce pain.

    Improving flexibility and range of motion: Tight muscles can contribute to back pain, so physical therapists can help you to improve your flexibility and range of motion. This can make it easier to move around and do your daily activities without pain.

    Strengthening core muscles: Your core muscles are the muscles that support your spine and pelvis. Strong core muscles can help to improve your posture and stability, which can help to reduce your risk of back pain.

    Educating you about back pain: Physical therapists can teach you about back pain, including the causes, risk factors, and how to prevent it. They can also teach you how to properly use your body to avoid injury.

  • Do I need a referral from my doctor?

    Many insurance plans no longer require a referral from a physician to start physical therapy. If you have an “open access” plan, you do not need a referral and can begin therapy right away. Our administrative team can help determine if you need a referral and guide you on how to obtain one.

  • Do I need an MRI before I schedule physical therapy?

    No, you do not need advanced imaging before starting physical therapy. Your therapist will provide a comprehensive evaluation on your first visit and provide a functional diagnosis and treatment plan.

  • Will physical therapy be painful?

    Our compassionate therapists are sensitive to your level of pain and pain tolerance especially with a back or spine injury. They will not instruct you to do more activity than you are physically able. Open communication with your therapist is important. If an exercise or treatment technique is painful, your therapist will adjust to your level of tolerance.

  • How do I know when to see a PT and when to see a surgeon?

    If you are experiencing back pain or discomfort, in most cases, you can first see a physical therapist who specializes in spine care. If you have a severe acute injury, such as a car accident or major fall, we encourage you to call 911 or go immediately to the emergency room.

  • Why did my surgeon recommend PT before my spine surgery?

    If it is determined that back or spine surgery is necessary, your surgeon will most likely recommend prehabilitation (“prehab”). Prehab refers to therapy-based treatments done prior to procedures to reduce injury, decrease pain, or to prepare the body for surgery.

    Our unique, research-based spine prehabilitation program is designed to improve your physical fitness and function before surgery, potentially resulting in improved recovery and superior post-surgical outcomes. Patient education is another key component of our spine prehab program. This includes teaching patients the proper posture during recovery, how to manage their pain, and necessary home modifications for ease of daily living.

  • Will I need physical therapy after my spine surgery?

    After surgery, it is important to follow your post-operative instructions carefully to optimize success. Your post-operative treatment plan will most likely include physical therapy. Depending on your procedure, therapy may begin while you are still in the hospital and transition to in-home and outpatient physical therapy. Physical therapy is proven to reduce pain and improve motor control and mobilization when initiated after back surgery.

    At MedStar Health, your specialty-trained spine therapist will develop a treatment plan based on your procedure type that is specific to your body and your level of pain and comfort. Your spine therapist will monitor your healing and regularly communicate your progression with your surgeon.