What Specialist Treats Back Pain?

Back pain is one of the most common types of pain people of all ages worldwide experience. It may start suddenly and range from mild to severe. Several factors may cause pain in the upper, middle, or lower back. Regardless of its cause, back pain may restrict mobility and prevent you from performing regular activities. Therefore, you must seek the appropriate medical care for back pain. Physical therapists are some of the best healthcare professionals who treat musculoskeletal pain, restricting mobility and physical function. This article will discuss the role of physical therapists at FYZICAL South Scottsdale in treating back pain.

Causes of Back Pain

As we age, our body organs deteriorate due to wear and tear from consistent use over several years. As a result, we may feel pain in these body organs. Our backs are also prone to wear and tear from overuse. Old age remains one of the biggest risk factors, but not necessarily a cause of back pain. What is? Let’s see:

  • Strains and Sprains: A strain occurs when a tendon (the tissue connecting muscle to bone) stretches or tears. On the other hand, a sprain occurs when a ligament (the fibrous tissue connecting bones to joints) stretches or tears. You may strain or sprain your back if you frequently perform physically demanding activities that require you to use your back. Heavy lifting or sudden awkward movements may lead to acute back pain.
  • Arthritis: Arthritis is a degenerative joint condition that can cause chronic back pain. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which usually affects the lumbar region and develops due to wear and tear. Osteoarthritis causes cartilage in the back’s joint to break down, leading to inflammation and severe pain.
  • Spinal stenosis: This condition is due to age-related wear and tear. It reduces the space inside the backbone, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves that travel through the spine. Spinal stenosis causes severe back pain, numbness, and muscle weakness.
  • Bulging Disc: The 26 bones (vertebrae) that make up the spine have discs (jelly-like substances that cushion the spine) between them. However, these protective discs may slip out of place, putting pressure on nearby nerves and the spinal cord, causing severe back pain in the lumbar region. 
  • Scoliosis: Scoliosis is a condition that causes an abnormal sideways curvature in the spine. This condition commonly occurs in children and adolescents just before their growth spurt for puberty. When severe, scoliosis causes back pain.

Other common causes of back pain include sciatica, degenerative disc diseases, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, ankylosing spondylitis, fractured vertebrae, spondylolisthesis, infections, and others. You may be at risk of developing back pain due to lack of exercise, certain diseases, obesity, improper lifting techniques, smoking, psychological problems, and others. 

Treatment for Back Pain

Back pain causes severe discomfort, restricts mobility, and prevents you from participating in regular activities. As a result, you may seek medical care to relieve back pain, improve mobility, and restore physical functionality. However, several healthcare professionals can diagnose and treat back pain. The availability of several healthcare professionals for back pain may cause a dilemma, as you may need clarification while trying to decide which one is best for you. Healthcare professionals who can diagnose and treat back pain include:

  • Physiatrists
  • Physical therapists
  • Neurologists
  • Osteopaths
  • Orthopedists
  • Rheumatologists
  • Pain medicine specialists
  • Chiropractors, etc.

Your primary healthcare provider or family/general practitioner is usually your first point of contact whenever you seek urgent medical care. However, primary healthcare practitioners are not the most qualified specialists for treating back pain, even though they may acquire training in assessing, diagnosing, and treating common back pain issues. While your primary healthcare provider may provide initial treatment to reduce back pain, they will likely refer you to a physiatrist or other specialists for proper and effective orthopedic rehabilitation in Scottsdale

A physiatrist is a healthcare professional who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation to restore physical functioning. Physiatrists are the primary care doctors of the back, treating acute and chronic pain. They combine several techniques and mobilize other specialists to ensure effective treatment. A physical therapist is one of the specialists that physiatrists may refer you to for effective back pain treatment.

The Role of Physical Therapy in Treating Back Pain

Physical therapy is a healthcare profession that aims to promote, maintain, and restore physical function, mobility, and health by addressing injuries, disabilities, and other medical conditions. It is one of the most effective treatment methods for pain in any organ of the body, and therefore, physical therapists are qualified to treat back pain.

Physical therapists receive training in musculoskeletal assessment and rehabilitation. Since back pain is a musculoskeletal condition, it is within the purview of physical therapy. How does physical therapy treat back pain? The following are some of the techniques that physical therapists employ to treat back pain:

Comprehensive Evaluation

Before beginning any treatment intervention, physical therapists comprehensively assess their patient’s condition, medical history, needs, goals, and underlying causes of back pain. Patients may also undergo imaging tests and other medical examinations during this stage of physical therapy.

Treatment Plans

After an assessment, physical therapists formulate a personalized treatment plan for their patients based on their needs, goals, and the result of the initial evaluation. The following are physical therapy techniques that a unique treatment plan may entail:

Therapeutic Exercises

Therapeutic exercises are physical activities and movements that restore and improve mobility and physical function. Exercises are the bedrock of physical therapy for pain relief. Therapeutic exercises address muscle imbalances and improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Types of therapeutic exercises for back pain include core strengthening exercises, aerobic exercises, strengthening exercises, stretching exercises, lumbar stabilizing exercises, etc. Exercises that relieve back pain include bridge, cat stretch, shoulder squeeze, knee-to-chest stretch, child’s pose, pelvic tilts, foam rolling, etc. 

Manual Therapy

This physical therapy intervention refers to the hands-on techniques that physical therapists employ to decrease pain and increase joint mobility and function. Examples of manual therapy techniques that can relieve back pain include massage, spinal manipulation, joint mobilization, soft tissue mobilization, etc. Physical therapists use their hands during manual therapy to reduce stiffness, relieve pain, improve mobility, and restore physical function. 

Postural Retraining

Poor posture due to bad habits, medical conditions, and poor ergonomics can strain the back, causing severe pain and discomfort. Therefore, a back pain specialist in Scottsdale may recommend posture correction exercises to reverse the effects of poor posture and relieve back pain.


Physical therapists also educate their patients, teaching them self-management strategies to relieve back pain and prevent further complications. They may also teach patients the proper techniques for bending, lifting, and performing other tasks that may hurt their backs. Physical therapists may also recommend lifestyle modifications that will ensure the effectiveness of physical therapy treatments. 

Physical therapy offers immense benefits for back pain. Therefore, physical therapists should be your first point of contact if you have suffered injury or illnesses that cause back pain. 


Back pain is among the most common complaints in people of all ages and genders worldwide. It is a debilitating condition that affects an individual’s mobility and physical function. Back pain may prevent you from participating in activities that you enjoy. Physical therapy aims to restore your back to an optimal condition. Therefore, if you seek relief from back pain, you should consider undergoing physical therapy at FYZICAL South Scottsdale.