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COVID-19 update:  Our hospital is still fully open for appointments and admissions, however visitors are not permitted.

Physical Therapy

After an episode of lower back pain has lasted between two and six weeks, or if there are frequent recurrences of low back pain, it is reasonable to consider back pain exercises and physical therapy for back treatment.

Some spine specialists consider back exercise and physical therapy sooner, particularly if the pain is severe.

In general, the goals of back pain exercises and physical therapy are to decrease back pain, increase function, and provide education on a maintenance program to prevent further recurrences.

Passive physical therapy – modalities

There are many different forms of physical therapy. Acutely, the therapist may focus on decreasing pain with passive physical therapy (modalities). These are considered passive therapies because they are done to the patient. Examples of modalities include:

  • Heat/ice packs
  • TENS units
  • Iontophoresis
  • Ultrasound

Active physical therapy – back pain exercises

In addition to passive therapies, active physical therapy (exercise) is also necessary to rehabilitate the spine. Generally, a patient’s back exercise program should encompass a combination of the following:

  • Stretching for back pain exercise
  • Strengthening for back pain exercise
  • Low-impact aerobic conditioning

Even patients with a very busy schedule should be able to maintain a moderate back pain exercise regimen that encompasses stretching, strengthening, and aerobic conditioning. These exercises suffice as physical therapy for back pain relief.

  • Stretching for back pain exercises. Almost every individual who has suffered from low back pain should stretch their hamstring muscles once or twice daily. Simple hamstring stretching does not take much time, although it can be difficult to remember, especially if there is little or no pain. Therefore, hamstring stretching exercises are best done at the same time every day so it becomes part of a person’s daily routine.
  • Strengthening for back pain exercise. To strengthen the back muscles, 15-20 minutes of dynamic lumbar stabilization or other prescribed exercises should be done every other day.
  • Low-impact aerobic conditioning. Low impact aerobics (such as walking, bicycling or swimming) should be done for 30-40 minutes three times weekly, on alternate days from the strengthening exercises

Contact us

For further questions relating to physical therapy or to book an appointment, call us on 020 3370 1030 or email spinespecialists@hje.org.uk

Spine Clinic

The Spine Clinic at St John & St Elizabeth Hospital is a centre for excellence in the diagnosis, intervention and aftercare of all spinal conditions.

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Patient information

Our Hospital is renowned for providing exemplary levels of care across more than 90 services. From orthopaedics, to urology, our private GP practice and Urgent Care Clinic, our services are led by some of London’s leading Consultants. For more information, and to find a service suitable for your care, find out more about the services that we offer.

Make an enquiry

If you have any questions relating to treatment options or pricing information, get in touch with us by filling out one of our contact boxes or giving us a call on 020 3370 1030.

Our Appointments Team have a dedicated and caring approach to finding you the earliest appointment possible with the best specialist.

If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP for a consultation. You can simply refer yourself* and book an appointment.

If you have health insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa Health, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer to get authorisation before any treatment, and in most cases you will also require a referral letter from your GP.

If you are not registered with a GP, we have an in-house private GP practice you can use. Alternatively, we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstances.

*Please note – for investigations such as X-rays and MRIs, a referral will be required. However, we may be able to arrange this for you through our on-site private GP.

    Make an enquiry

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