What are the Different Types of Spine Therapy?

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  • Written By: Elva K.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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Spine therapy is done in cases where a patient has sustained a spine injury or in cases where the patient is otherwise experiencing back pain. This therapy can occur in various ways. For example, spine therapy could include surgery, physical therapy, decompression therapy, spinal manipulation, spine injections, or medication.

Spinal surgery is not always done for back pain; however, in emergency cases or in cases which did not respond to other forms of spine treatment, surgery is an option. For example, discectomy to remove part of a disc, foramenotomy to relieve nerve pressure, or a laminectomy to relieve spinal pressure can be done. Also, spinal fusion surgery to stop motion from occurring between vertebrae or spine disc replacement are surgical options to treat spinal problems.

In cases of back pain, the physical therapist might choose to do passive spine therapy such as using heat or ice packs. Lontophoresis to use a small electric charge to deliver medication through the skin, ultrasound, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units are treatment options. Or, by contrast, the physical therapist may decide to work with the patient to do stretching, strengthening, or light aerobic exercise to help heal the spine.


Decompression is a spine therapy that decompress the intervertebral discs and involves fitting the patient with a pelvic and thoracic harness while the patient is lying on a computerized table. The medical professional enters the spine therapy treatment into a computerized panel and then the patient goes through the treatment. Typically, at least 20 treatments are given to the patient within a seven week time frame.

Spinal manipulation includes adjustments to the head, neck, shoulders, back, and hips. The chiropractor or osteopath may utilize various pressures such as slow pressure, twisting movement, or rapid movement to bring about healing. Also, sometimes, the patient may be given heat, electrical current, or ultrasound to help relax the spine before the adjustments.

Spine injections are used to help diagnose back pain; however, spinal injections to reduce pain could include injections such as epidural steroidal injection to the lower back or injections into facet joints or the sacroiliac joints. Epidural injections occur in the space around the spine sac and the nerve roots to minimize pain from disc pressure on nerves or the epidural injections occur in cases of spine stenosis where there is narrowing of areas where nerves exist. Facet joint or sacroiliac joint injections occur if the facet joint of sacroiliac joint is the reason that the patient’s back pain, hip pain, buttock pain, and leg pain is occurring.

Medication does not stop the spine from degenerating but it does reduce pain. For instance, aspirin or acetaminophen can reduce minor back pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can reduce back pain by blocking the inflammation in joints. Narcotic pain medications such as morphine or codeine or muscle relaxants are sometimes prescribed to reduce back pain. Also, antidepressants are sometimes prescribed because the same chemical reaction that triggers depression also reportedly controls the pain pathway in the brain.


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