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Common Back Injuries

These are some of the more common and general injuries we may see and are not an exhaustive list. Our dedicated and experienced staff will work with you on any issues and pain you may be experiencing and create a unique plan of care to meet and exceed your goals.


Spondylolysis injuries are commonly seen throughout the life-span and are characterized by stress reactions or fractures observed along the spine at the “pars interarticularis”. Spondylolisthesis is observed when a superior vertebra shifts over top the inferior vertebra (often anterior, occasionally posterior) and often presents in combination with spondylolysis. These injuries are typically associated with repetitive extension/rotation movements. If suspected, their presence will be determined by x-ray/MRI by the medical team. The medical team will generally recommend a period of time abstaining from sport or “impact” related activities to allow healing. The medical team may also recommend the use of an orthotic and brace for maximal protection in the initial stages although this is not always the case. Physical therapy will assist the rehabilitation process by managing symptoms early-on and as needed, maintain and improve lower body flexibility, gradually restore low back range of motion, increase core strength and endurance, and gradually prepare the individual for a return to activity once cleared through a gradual strengthening program for the upper/lower body as appropriate. Once cleared for a return to impact activities, your therapist will work together with you and the medical team to establish an appropriate return to sport/activity progression.


Radicular pain occurs when pain is referred or felt in areas other than the low back but is related to an issue at the spine. In addition to pain, patients may experience loss of sensation, strength, or changes in reflexes which is characteristic of radiculopathy due to the compression of nerves exiting the spine. Your physical therapist will work with you and the medical team to establish a treatment plan that manages symptoms as needed (manual therapy, dry needling, or electrical stimulation), emphasizes active treatment strategies to maintain health and general activity (core strengthening, spinal range of motion, and other exercise), and outlines a return to activity plan through activity modification and progressive activity.

Lumbar Strain
Lumbar strains occur when muscles of the low back are overloaded resulting in pain, muscle spasm, loss of range of motion, and reduced function. Your physical therapist will work with you to address your symptoms, modify activity while you heal, and outline a return to activity as your symptoms improve.

Degenerative Disc Disease
While considered a normal aging process by many, degenerative disc disease (DDD) is characterized by a thinning of the discs between spinal segments resulting in narrowing of the areas where nerves exit the spine. This can be related to a variety of pain presentations however it is amenable to physical therapy management through symptom management strategies, activity modification as needed, and a progressive return to activity as appropriate. Throughout this process your PT will work with you, address your concerns and manage any identified limitations that may affect your recovery.

Lumbar Spine Surgery Recovery
Spine surgeries in the lumbar region include discectomy or fusion among others. Our PTs are familiar with a variety of spine surgeries and will work with you and the surgical team to navigate your post-operative rehabilitation, address your limitations, and establish a plan and appropriate timeline for return to your desired activities.

No-Specific Low Back Pain
Non-specific Low Back Pain is low back pain that is localized to the low back region and is not associated with tissue damage. This can occur for a multitude of reasons and is amenable to physical therapy management through symptom management and progressive activity including stretching, range of motion, core and lower body strengthening, and continued activity as able.

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