Saanichton Physical Therapy Blog

Manual Therapy for Back and Neck Pain

Manual Therapy for Back and Neck Pain

See the Big Picture. Treat the CAUSE of injury.

This is the ‘hands-on’ of physiotherapy which is found at the Saanichton Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic. Although there are certain improvements that can be made by stretching and massage alone, sometimes a more specific technique is required to mobilize or manipulate joints that don’t move properly. Often Manual Therapy can help minimize the likelihood of major injury by looking at the big picture. We treat the CAUSE and not just the SYMPTOM. After such a treatment, you may be shown home exercises that can be done to keep your joints functioning well.

What types of Manual & Manipulative Therapy can Physiotherapists provide?

Joint mobilization – a skilled passive slow movement applied by the therapist to the affected joint to improve its range of motion. This can be applied to any joint, from the jaw all the way to the toes.

Joint manipulation – a skilled passive fast movement applied by the therapist to a stiff joint. There is usually a characteristic ‘pop’ sound or feeling. These can be applied to most joints of the body. Manipulations of the spine itself are limited to those professionals with advanced training in this area, including physiotherapists.

Back and neck pain are among the most widespread reasons patients seek physiotherapy.  And back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 80% of people at some point during their lives. Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain, and can be acute or chronic. Neck pain, which is closely associated with back pain, occurs when muscles are strained from poor posture or injury, or when joints are worn or nerves are compressed. Both conditions can be debilitating and effect a patient’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Early access to physiotherapy (within 14 days of occurrence) has a significant long-term impact on the health of patients as it helps to prevent chronic disability and decreases the proportion of cases that become chronic.

So, if you suffer from back or neck pain, seeking the guidance of a physiotherapist is a great first step towards finding pain relief and keeping you moving for life.

  1. Vary your position. Sitting at computers and desks all day puts increased pressured on your spine. After 30 minutes of sitting make sure you walk around to keep the flow of blood and fluids to your spine. Set up a standing workstation to vary your position while working at your computer. Make sure your work desk and computer are set up properly for sitting or standing to encourage optimal posture. Your physiotherapist will prescribe suitable and safe stretches or “pause exercises” and provide tips on how to correctly position yourself in front of your computer.

  1. Stay flexible. Optimal spinal health means having flexibility in all directions. If your thorax (upper-mid back and ribcage) has limited rotation movement, more load and stress can be transferred to your low back, neck or other body parts. Check your rotation by sitting in a chair with your arms crossed across your stomach; you should be able to turn equally to the right and left and see behind you easily. If you have an asymmetry between the right and left directions, or reduced motion, your physiotherapist can assess the reason why, mobilize your spinal joints, and give you exercises to maintain your thoracic mobility – essential for a healthy low back and neck.

  1. Keep your core in check. Regain optimal control of your deep spinal muscles (core) following an episode of neck or back pain. Your physiotherapist will provide a thorough examination of your spine, provide manual therapy and other treatment techniques, and help you regain any lost mobility by instructing you on how to achieve ideal postural alignment and prescribing exercises that will support your spine.

  1. Correct postural habits. Be aware of habitual postures and positions (such as always sitting on one side of the couch, slouching with your feet on the coffee table, carrying your bag/purse always over the same shoulder, sitting cross legged, leaning usually on the same elbow etc.) Habitually poor postures may indicate weaknesses in certain muscle groups or stiffness within the body. Your physiotherapist can assess reasons why you may adopt these positions and how to correct them.

Physiotherapists are the rehabilitation specialists recommended most by physicians. They are university-educated health professionals who work with patients of all ages to diagnose and treat virtually any mobility issue. Physiotherapists provide care for orthopedic issues such as sport and workplace injuries, as well as cardiorespiratory and neurological conditions. As Canada’s most physically active health professionals, BC’s physiotherapists know how to keep British Columbians moving for life.