The majority of patients who visit Chestnut Hill Hospital’s physical therapy center at the Top of the Hill come in with spine pain- neck or lower back- according to therapist Bethany Nolan. Lots of tall windows at the facility behind the Children of America building allow natural light to brighten up the large open multi-station workroom area where a few therapists are busy tending to patients.
Nolan says the cause of back pain, often, is not a traumatic injury but maintaining prolonged positions like being sedentary too long. With a model of the spine, Nolan demonstrates how pressure can build up in the spine’s discs. Imaging like X-rays is not necessary to begin therapy. An initial evaluation is done and a plan of exercises that can be done at home to reverse the pressure buildup is devised. At therapy sessions she demonstrates the exercises, has patients practice and adjust the exercises and notes the patient’s progress. Exercises may first include just press-ups to ease the pain. Later in the process, core-strengthening exercises like holding the plank position or balancing one’s legs on an exercise ball may be introduced. Nolan stresses the importance of consulting a physician and then working with the therapist to develop a plan of exercises tailored to the patient’s individual needs.
“Back pain doesn’t need to be a reason to stop living your life!” Nolan cheerily declaims.