Mark J. Downey, MD & Alex Cotter, MD
10 Old Montgomery Hwy #200. Homewood, AL 35209
Appointments & Referrals: (205) 271-6511
Spine Group Alabama patients will exhaust non-surgical treatment options in advance of spine surgery. This can include the use of spine specialized therapy. The physicians refer out to affiliated spine therapists who have advanced experience with back and neck pain.
The only way to permanently relieve pain involves changing the physiology of the back by using exercise to make it stronger, more flexible and resistant to injury. While a general physical therapist may spend weeks attempting to mask pain using heat, ice or ultrasound, research has shown that using these passive “feel-good” treatments does not provide any lasting benefit. That is why most health insurance companies no longer pay for feel-good, passive treatments involving heat or ice. They believe you can do this on your own at home.
Spine is a special problem requiring special training. The general physical therapist often sees a wide variety of patients each day who suffer problems related to sore elbows, knees or shoulders. While general physical therapists are very strong with many sports medicine ailments, they typically have a very limited understanding of the best ways to treat specific types of back problems. At best, they may have taken a couple courses on therapy for a back or neck injury. Spine care can be complex, and it requires extensive training to address the variety of problems seen in a spine center.
For example, a spine-specialized therapist’s primary goal is to enable the patient to perform a customized home exercise program as early as their first visit. The therapist’s second goal is to make the patient independent of therapy within a short period of time.
Instead of receiving a general treatment approach, a spine therapist specializes in treating back and neck pain. These therapists have advanced, hands-on skills that can help relieve your pain and get your injured muscles, tissues and spinal structures moving again. Instead of a single school of thought, patients can access specialists with a variety of skills who can match the best treatments to your particular problem.
Manual therapy relates to the use of a therapist’s hands to achieve pain relief. By using specific techniques, the spine therapist can relieve pain through hands-on movements applied to vertebrae and soft tissue areas. This is achieved not passively, with a modality such as ice or heat, but through actively moving the joints and tissues. Spine-specialized therapy can involve techniques taught by schools including McKenzie, Paris, Ola Grimsby, Cyriax and the Maitland therapy school in Australia.
A manual therapist’s background typically begins with physical therapy training, followed by advanced education in spine that sets them apart from general physical therapists. This specialized education can be within a host of manual therapy philosophies, each involving unique pain-relieving techniques that help patients return to function as quickly as possible. Regardless of the particular school of thought, the best spine therapists avoid the use of passive modalities, which do not provide permanent relief.