The physical therapists and medical staff of Athens Physical Therapy / Physicians Back and Neck Clinic are devoted to matching the proper treatment to your specific condition. We need to know the story of your problem before we can treat it. While many patients may have the same diagnosis on the dotted line, the individual characteristics of your condition need to be understood and appreciated because of subtle differences that may be required in your therapy compared to that of another patient.
A typical therapy visit will generally employ some “high-tech” and “high-touch” methods. Part of a treatment session often involves manual therapies (hands-on by the therapist). All the science in the world won’t help unless hands are placed upon the patient to better understand what is wrong. We are interested in where the pain is, where there is a restricted or altered movement pattern, and where there is instability and weakness. Manual therapies usually help you become more aware of what provokes your symptoms, and they are the basis to discovering strategies to treat them or to avoid them (often, it is the avoidance of certain exercises and movement patterns that are as important as the ones chosen).
Another part of the treatment session involves therapeutic exercise. This phase sometimes scares those who are really hurting, yet tries the patience (at first) of athletes who think we are "too careful". But because there is a need to reprogram proper motion and function, exercises start light and progress upward. Exercises are used to deliberately and completely activate muscles, to simultaneously "regroove" their cardinal functions and stimulate their increased participation and strength. Because there is a hierarchy of spine muscle function (whereby some muscles actually turn "off" in the face of pain or injury, and others become overly active) spine rehab involves "remedial" activation and strengthening of disused muscles to restore muscle balance and coordinated activation. Hence, the precise execution of an exercise is more important than the load being moved.
Finally, home exercises are taught so you can maximize the therapy effect on your own. We cannot underestimate the importance of this last step. Our most successful patients become very spine-aware - they develop an understanding of proper spine mechanics and become self-aware enough of their body's motions to understand how and when they put it at risk, and what they must do to avoid it.
We embrace the concept that spine problems are "software" and "hardware" issues that are linked: how the spine is used will determine what kind of wear and injuries will occur - and vice versa. It is imperative to clean up motion patterns that perpetuate spine pain, and reprogram the "right way" of spine and body movement. Our ultimate goal of a "bulletproof" stable spine is based upon the research and methods of Stuart McGill, Ph.D., Professor of Spine Biomechanics, University of Waterloo, Canada.
Again, it is important that all of our patients know their diagnosis, are effectively treated, can self-manage after discharge, and have a "safety-net" in case of flare-up. Finally, if we cannot help you, we believe it is our job to find someone who can.