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Physical Therapist Helping Older Woman Stretch

Physical Therapy and Improved Health

By Nima Salari, MD

Often patients ask me whether physical therapy is necessary before or after surgery. Although some conditions that cause severe debilitating pain may not respond to therapy right away, patients find a degree of relief in most cases. We typically do not exercise enough and when we do, many of us use poor form or do not do the correct exercises.

A good therapy program will include stretching especially around the area of the lower back and hips where we develop reduced range of motion over time. The stretching and subsequent exercise often help increase blood flow through the areas that hurt. This helps diminish inflammation and heats the area adding to the relief. Directed therapy also helps to strengthen the muscles of the back. The core muscles surrounding the spine are dynamic stabilizers. The stronger they are, the more they help to stabilize the spine and in turn keep pain at bay. As we improve with physical therapy, we are more likely to adopt other healthy habits including our diet.

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