The University of Maryland Rehabilitation Network provides treatments for conditions of the neck and back. Our team is focused on providing physical therapy designed to reduce spinal pain caused by any number of factors tied to lifestyle, injury, arthritis of the back, degenerative disk disease or rheumatologic issues. We take a comprehensive approach to care and integrate all necessary modalities of treatment into your therapy program, including occupational therapy as well as educational sessions and support programs to address your needs and help you meet your personal goals.

The Benefits of Physical Therapy

Spinal conditions can cause achiness in the neck or back, shooting pain, numbness or tingling, and unexplained weakness in your arms or legs. This pain can keep you from doing everyday tasks and participating in the activities you enjoy most. At the UM Rehabilitation Network, we use physical therapy to treat your spinal condition and provide a number of benefits to your health and well-being:

  1. Pain relief
  2. Increased strength in your core and extremities
  3. Improved flexibility
  4. Improved posture
  5. Ability to safely move your body as you return to activity

Our Approach to Care

At the UM Rehabilitation Network we individualize care for patients suffering from spinal pain. We start with a comprehensive evaluation to assess your posture, strength, flexibility, movement mechanics and range of motion. Our therapists also review your daily activities to determine if they may contribute to your pain, possibly making it worse. Based on the evaluation, the care team develops a treatment plan that will help to relieve the pain and teach you alternative ways to move, so that you don't trigger the pain. They will also work with you to modify certain behavioral factors, like posture, to prevent the pain from returning.

Length of time spent in physical therapy varies depending on the condition. As a part of your treatment, our team will teach you exercises and movement mechanics that can be done at home. People with neck and back pain can live high-quality of life if they take good care of themselves

Treatment Options for Spine Pain

Our therapists use a number of tactics for treating patients suffering from neck and back pain, including strengthening weak muscles, stretching tight muscles, instruction in proper posture and body mechanics, ice, heat and electrical stimulation. We also use traction – pulling on the spine to open up the space between the vertebrae -- to decrease compression on the discs and the nerves. This can be done manually or on a special machine. The spine is a delicate part of the body and requires precise hands-on work by the therapist. Our specialists are certified to provide this high-level manual care.

Several of our facilities offer heated pools for aquatic therapy, which is an important option for people with spinal pain. The water provides buoyancy and allows patients to stand and move in ways that they otherwise can't. The pool is a great starting point for patients with extreme pain or with chronic disease.

Therapy & Recovery for the Neck Pain

Neck pain can occur due to a muscle strain, a sprain in one of the ligaments or tendons in the neck, disc injury, arthritic changes, or trauma. This can be caused by an injury, like whiplash, or from straining the neck during everyday activities. Physical therapists at the UM Rehabilitation Network evaluate you to identify the cause of the pain and then provide therapy to alleviate the pain. Treatments may include strengthening and conditioning exercises, flexibility exercises, instruction on proper posture, joint mobilization to ensure proper vertebral alignment and improve range of motion of the neck, nerve mobilization to provide pain relief, and massage.

Therapy & Recovery from Upper Back Pain

Pain in your upper back is most commonly caused by muscle strains from overuse, lack of strength in that region, trauma, or simply from poor posture over time. Physical therapy can be very effective for treating pain in the upper back, also known as the thoracic spine. UM Rehab Network therapists often use postural instruction, joint mobilization, massage, flexibility exercises, and exercises that strengthen the shoulders and the upper back so that it can better support the spine.

Therapy & Recovery from Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain can be caused by a number of factors, including muscle sprains and strains, arthritis, herniated or ruptured discs, age-related disc degeneration, poor posture, or poor body mechanics with various lifestyle activities. Each case of lower back pain is different, and we evaluate each patient independently before developing a therapy program. In many cases, we focus our treatment on core stabilization exercises to strengthen the muscles in the abdominals and the pelvic area, which support the lower back. Our therapists also work on strengthening and increasing the range of motion of the lower extremities. Exercises are determined based on the patient's condition and areas of weakness. Other treatments may include instruction in proper posture and body mechanics for home, work, and recreational actives, joint mobilization for alignment and flexibility of the spine, massage, traction to decrease spinal compression, and modalities such as ice, heat, and electrical stimulation for pain relief.

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