Health Watch — Back Pain: Passive Rehabilitation

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about dealing with back pain. Treating back pain requires that doctors take a holistic view of patients, considering not just what’s physically wrong with them, but also what their goals are after treatment. 

Dr. Kevin Gill, one of the directors of the Spine Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says doctors need to look at the work and leisure activities patients want to pursue and then try to improve their ability to function. One way of doing this is through rehabilitation. While we usually think of exercise when we think of rehab, there are also passive methods. These include applying heat and cold to reduce muscle spasms and inflammation, electrically stimulating nerves to relieve pain, applying steroids topically and using ultrasound to penetrate soft tissues with deep heat.

Next: Active rehabilitation.

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March 2008

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