Back & Spine

Different treatments are recommended for treating a back or neck condition depending on the underlying problem that’s causing the pain. Sometimes muscle spasm is the primary source of neck and back pain. Sometimes the muscle spasm is a symptom of another condition such as an alignment problem, a herniated disk, or possibly a ligament problem. In these situations, the muscles that surround the spine react to the underlying condition. Rhode Island Rehabilitation Center’s physical therapists will treat both the primary and secondary conditions, to reduce the pain and reduce the chances of the pain coming back.


Soft tissue massage therapy techniques including effleurage, petrissage, trigger point release, myofascial release, transverse friction massage, scar tissue massage are effective tools for providing immediate relief from spasmed muscle groups. Whether the muscle spasm is the primary condition causing the back pain or whether the spasm is the result of an alignment issue or a herniated disk, soft tissue massage provides immediate comfort through release of the spasmed muscle groups.

RI Rehab also provides cervical and lumbar traction for clients with pain in the neck, back, arms, or legs from herniated disks, pinched nerves, arthritic changes in the spine and alignment problems. Mechanical traction is done on a traction table, where the vertebrae are gentle spread to relieve pain from herniated disks and other causes of spinal nerve root irritation. Manual traction can also provide relief from cervical and back pain and pain in the arms and legs caused by herniated disks.

Other techniques used to relieve back and neck pain include joint mobilization therapies. Craniosacral therapy – a very light pressure treatment that works with the dural material and cerebro-spinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord – helps to reduce chronic and acute pain throughout the body. For some patients, craniosacral treatments are extremely beneficial.

Aquatic and Burdenko therapies are very important in the treatment of spinal problems. Deloading – taking advantage of the body’s buoyancy in water – reduces pressure on the spinal column to relieve pain. Combined with warm water therapy to relax spasmed muscles, deloading provides relief from back pain by reducing pressure on nerve roots.

Other treatment modalities useful for treating back pain and sciatica include ultrasound, electrical stimulation, moist heat and ice therapy.

In addition to pain management, RI Rehab therapists develop stretching, strengthening and endurance exercises, postural education and body mechanics training programs to rebuild the muscle groups that hold the spine in good alignment and reduce reoccurrence of back and sciatic pain.