Performance Physical Therapy is now HIGHBAR PHYSICAL THERAPY.

PHYSICAL THERAPY IN  Rhode Island & Massachusetts

Physical Therapy for Back Pain

Everyone talks about back pain. Is it normal?

Back pain is a common ailment that affects millions of people worldwide. Infact, 80% of Americans will experience an episode of low back pain in their lifetime and 1 in 4 people are experiencing back pain right now. Physical therapy stands as a primary form of care for individuals with back pain, aiming to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and strengthen the muscles that support the spine. Ultimately addressing many of the underlying causes of the back pain. Here's what you can expect from physical therapy for back pain and answers to some frequently asked questions.

We've got your back: Seeing a Physical Therapist for Back Pain

Physical Therapists are Movement Experts

When you’re experiencing decreased range of motion, difficulty sitting or standing up straight, muscle spasms, stiffness, you’ll want to go to someone who knows why back pain is happening and how you can get better. Physical therapists are experts in movement, which means they understand how the different systems in the body work together to get your body moving. Through hands-on care, education, and prescribed movement, a physical therapist improves quality of life for patients. Treatment always includes education on how to avoid back pain in the future and identifying need for other services if risk factors are present.

Avoid Opioids and Imaging

For most cases, it’s best to avoid the use of opioids and strong pain medications. Opioids don’t fix the root cause of your back pain - they simply block the brain’s pain receptors to mask the pain. Given the high risk of addiction, depression, and overdose, conservative treatments like physical therapy are the safest option to recover from back pain. Medical guidelines also strongly discourage the use of MRIs and X-rays in diagnosing back pain because they produce so many false alarms and create unnecessary spending.

What to Expect at Physical Therapy for Back Pain

When you visit a physical therapist for back pain, your first session will involve a thorough evaluation. This includes questions about the nature of the pain and other symptoms, onset, duration, and a review of your medical history. The physical examination will evaluate your posture, joint and soft tissue mobility, flexibility, nervous system, and muscle strength. Based on this assessment, the therapist will educate you on your diagnosis and prognosis, and design a personalized treatment plan which may include therapeutic exercises and prescribed movement, hands-on care (manual therapy, including soft tissue and joint mobilization and manipulation, and dry needling), and modalities.The goal is to alleviate pain and support your return to your everyday life, leisure activities, work, and sports.

Acute or chronic strains
Muscle Spasms
Degenerative Disc Disease
Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease)
Prolapsed and herniated intervertebral discs
Sacroiliac joint pain
Piriformis syndrome
Back pain associated with pregnancy
Repetitive strain injuries
Post-surgical recovery
Compression Fracture
Highbar Physical Therapy Can Help

Physical therapy for back pain is a tailored approach designed to help you return to your daily activities pain-free. If you're experiencing back pain, find a Highbar physical therapy location to book an appointment and consult with a physical therapist to see how they can assist in your recovery, empowering you to feel better, move freely and live fully.

Back Pain Treatment

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy is a hands-on treatment technique used by physical therapists at Highbar to alleviate pain, improve soft tissue and joint mobility, and enhance the functioning of your muscles and joints.  

This hands-on approach targets specific areas of tension, stiffness, or restricted movement, helping to release tight muscles, improve joint mobility, and reduce pain. Manual therapy techniques may include soft tissue mobilization, joint mobilization and manipulation, stretching, therapeutic massage, and myofascial release.

By addressing these issues, we can enhance your body's ability to heal itself, restore normal movement patterns, and promote overall wellness. Your physical therapist will customize your treatment plan to address your specific needs and goals, ensuring that you receive personalized care tailored to you. 

Manual therapy is a safe, effective, and non-invasive treatment option that can help to achieve lasting relief optimizing your ability to move, function.  work, enjoy leisure activities and sport. 


To improve movement and relieve pain

Prescribed Exercises

Targeted exercises have been proven to manage and alleviate back pain. Your physical therapist will prescribe exercises, based on the findings of the evaluation, whilst considering factors such as the severity of your pain, your fitness level, and any other underlying health conditions.

Types of exercises that maybe prescribed: 

  1. General Aerobic Exercise: For most people, walking is one of the most effective ways to manage back pain. A Highbar physical therapist will provide guidelines on a walking program, or provide alternatives for those unable to walk.
  2. Directional Spinal Mobility Exercises: Based on the evaluation findings, repeated spinal motions in specific directions can help to maintain and improve mobility and reduce pain and stiffness. These exercises may include, cat-cow stretches, gentle backbends and spinal rotation.  
  3. Strengthening Core Muscles: Strengthening the muscles that support your spine will help to stabilize your back and reduce the risk of further injury. A progressive core exercise program may include plank variations and bridges, exercise that target the abdomen, back, and pelvis.
  4. Improve Flexibility: Stretching exercises can help improve flexibility and range of motion in your spine and surrounding muscles. Stretching the hamstrings, hip flexors, and lower back can decrease the stress of the spine, alleviate stiffness and reduce pain.
  5. Postural Correction: Poor postural habits can contribute to back pain by placing undue stress on your spine. Specific exercises and stretches can help correct posture imbalances, promoting proper alignment and reducing strain on your back.

Enhance Functional Movement: Functional exercises mimic activities of daily living and help you perform tasks more efficiently and with less pain. These exercises may include squats, lunges, and lifting techniques with proper form. For athletes, this includes sports specific exercises.

Dry Needling

At Highbar Physical Therapy, we offer dry needling as part of our comprehensive approach to treating back pain. Dry needling is a highly effective technique used to alleviate muscle tightness, reduce pain, and restore function in individuals experiencing back pain.

Questions about Back Pain? We’ve got answers.

Don’t see what you’re looking for?

What to Wear to Physical Therapy for Back Pain?

For physical therapy sessions, wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that allows you to move freely. Flexible pants or shorts and a t-shirt are ideal. Your therapist needs to access the area where you're experiencing pain, so avoid overly restrictive garments.

Is Physical Therapy Good for Back Pain?

Absolutely! Physical therapy is highly beneficial for most forms of back pain. It offers a non-invasive option that targets the root cause of pain rather than just treating symptoms. Choosing physical therapy early to treat acute low back pain result in an average net benefit of $4,160. Physical therapy reduces the need for prescription medications, including opioids, decreases unnecessary imaging and other invasive procedures. By improving mobility, strength and flexibility, and educating the person to understand how to take care of their back, physical therapy can provide long-lasting relief and reduce the risk of recurrence.

How Long is Physical Therapy for Back Pain?

The duration of physical therapy for back pain varies depending on the severity of the condition and individual progress. Typically, a course of treatment might last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Care may be a combination of in-person and virtual, based on a patients preference. Consistent adherence with  following recommendations and a  prescribed home program will shorten the recovery time.

What Are The Benefits of Early Treatment for Back Pain?

Early treatment for back pain offers numerous benefits, both in terms of physical health and overall quality of life. Here are some key advantages:

  1. Chronic Pain Prevention: Early treatment  can prevent acute back pain from becoming chronic. Addressing the issue promptly reduces the risk of long-term discomfort and disability. This includes the reliance on prescription medications.
  2. Faster Recovery: Timely treatment often leads to quicker recovery. Early management can reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and restore mobility more rapidly than delayed care.
  3. Improved Functionality: Treating back pain early helps maintain or quickly restore functionality and mobility. This allows individuals to continue their daily activities, work, participate in leisure activities and sports,  without significant interruption.
  4. Reduced Risk of Complications: Delaying treatment can lead to complications such as muscle weakness, nerve damage, or secondary issues like poor posture or compensatory injuries in other parts of the body.
  5. Lower Healthcare Costs: Early treatment is  cost-effective. . By addressing the problem before it worsens, patients may avoid more extensive and expensive treatments, such as surgery, imaging, injections and prescription medications. .
  6. Better Mental Health: Chronic pain is often associated with mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Early treatment can help prevent these mental health challenges by reducing the duration and intensity of pain.
  7. Prevention of Recurrence: Proper early treatment includes education on posture, exercises, and lifestyle modifications that can help prevent future episodes of back pain.

Does Physical Therapy Work for Back Pain?

Physical Therapists are often the first healthcare providers individuals with back pain see. Experts in evaluating both acute and chronic back pain, a Highbar physical therapist will determine the best pathway to ensure a patient receives necessary care and intervention. Through hands-on care, education, and prescribed movement, physical therapy alleviates pain (reducing the need for prescription medications, such as opioids) and supports your return to everyday life, leisure activities, work, and sports. Additionally, physical therapy helps patients gain knowledge about factors contributing to pain and techniques for self-management, empowering them to avoid or manage any future acute low back pain issues.

Evidence supports that seeing a physical therapist early results in better short and long term outcomes. Therefore, with the onset of back pain, seeking  Physical Therapy immediately is the best option. 

Highbar physical therapists will communicate with all members of your healthcare team if additional care, including imaging or medication, is necessary.

Does Insurance Cover Physical Therapy for Back Pain?

Yes, insurance (including Medicare) covers physical therapy for back pain. The coverage may include a portion of the care or all of the costs, depending on the plan design.

Should I rest if I have back pain?

There’s a widely known misconception that rest can heal your back pain. However, bed rest can actually make it worse! It’s recommended that you exercise and get active and mobile as soon as possible. Many people also think that the worse the pain is, the more serious an injury, but the good news is that less than 1% of all back pain is due to a serious condition. In most cases, back pain will resolve with conservative treatments like physical therapy. Also, starting physical therapy at the onset of pain can help you prevent chronic pain.

When should I see a physical therapist for back pain?

If you’re experiencing back pain that isn’t getting any better and it’s limiting your activities, a physical therapist can help you recover so you can get back to what you love to do without pain or limitation. Request an appointment with a physical therapist so you can feel better, move freely, and live fully.


Get back to what you love,
and do it even better.