Spine Rehabilitation

Chronic back pain and neck pain can cause disability, limit mobility, and severely interfere with normal functioning. The Rehabilitation Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Spine Center provides nonsurgical treatment options for patients suffering from back and neck pain conditions such as low back pain, degenerative disc disease, and herniated discs.

The goal is to strengthen muscles and increase flexibility to alleviate pain and improve quality of life without resorting to surgery or long-term medication.

Physicians in our Rehabilitation Program use medical histories and physical examinations to gain a thorough understanding of your symptoms. Once a diagnosis is complete, appropriate rehabilitative techniques can be prescribed for each patient.

Rehabilitation techniques we offer generally fall into two categories – active and passive.

Active Physical Therapy

Active physical therapy in the form of stretching and strengthening exercises is critical to the rehabilitation and long-term health of your spine.

Depending on your condition, the following may be included in the treatment plan:

  • Dynamic lumbar stabilization
  • Low-impact aerobic conditioning
  • Muscle strengthening exercises
  • Stretching the back and other areas

Passive Physical Therapy

Passive physical therapy techniques focus on decreasing the pain without requiring much effort from you. The techniques include:

Electrical stimulation of nerves
A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) unit uses painless electrical stimulation to target specific nerves and relieve pain
Heat/cold application
Heat and ice help reduce muscle spasms and inflammation. They are often used alternatively through the course of treatment.
Topical application of steroids
Steroids are applied to the skin through a process called iontophoresis, which uses a mild current that causes the medicine to migrate to soft tissue and reduce inflammation
Ultrasound deep heating
The ultrasound machine uses sound waves to penetrate the body’s soft tissues to relieve pain and promote healing