Spine & Back Conditions

Physical Therapy for Spine and Back Injuries

Spine and Back Injuries

Physical Therapy for Back and Spinal Injuries - New Heights Physical Therapy in Portland OR and Vancouver WAThoracic Outlet Syndrome

The thoracic outlet is the area between the collarbone and the top rib. Numerous blood vessels and nerves run through here but can be compressed due to injuries, repetitive movement and even pregnancy. Signs and symptoms differ based on whether the blood vessels, nerves or both are compressed. However, typical symptoms include a blue and cold hand, swelling and pain in the arm, arm and hand weakness and numbness and tingling down the arm. While anti-inflammatory medications may be helpful, physical therapy is typically the first line of treatment to improve shoulder range of motion and improve posture, which can reduce compression in the thoracic outlet. Manual therapy can be helpful to decrease pressure on the nerves. Activity modifications and home strengthening exercises can also be taught here.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

This is an inflammatory disease of the spine that can lead to loss of flexibility in the back and eventual fusion of the vertebrae to each other. What begins with pain and stiffness especially when rising in the morning can eventually lead to a hunched-over position. Ankylosing spondylitis does not have any specifically known causes other than a genetic marker called HLA-B27 that may indicate a propensity for this disease. If x-rays and MRIs solidify the evidence that one has this condition, the practitioner will begin treatment with anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy to improve comfort and mobility.


Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that often shows up initially in pre-teen individuals. It is typically not known what causes scoliosis in most people, but it can show up more frequently in those with muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy. Scoliosis often shows up first in a shoulder or hip that appears higher than the other one or by a shoulder blade that sticks out further than the other one does. Scoliosis in children is usually treated with a brace to ensure that symptoms do not worsen while spinal fusion surgery is typically used for severe scoliosis.

Degenerative Disc Disease

This age or injury-related disease occurs when an intervertebral disc located between two the bones in the spine breaks down. This most often creates with pain, which may be so severe that it becomes difficult to perform normal daily activities. Other symptoms could include numbness and tingling in the legs and feet or muscle spasms. Treatment for degenerative disc disease typically begins with physical and occupational therapies and medications to treat discomfort. Steroidal injections into the damaged disc may also help. Those who do not respond to these treatments may require spinal fusion or decompression surgery.

Facet Syndrome

Facet syndrome, often caused by arthritis, affects the facet joints in the spine, which have spaces through which nerves run. Because these joints are integral to spinal mobility, they can severely limit one’s mobility when they become inflamed due to this disease. It can become difficult to turn the head or the shoulders to look in a certain direction. Eventually, this can cause a pinched nerve or a hunched-over look. Conservative treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy while treatment for more severe cases may include steroidal injections. Rhizotomy to destroy painful spinal nerves can also help.

Thoracic Pain and Rib Pain

Thoracic pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs, bruised or broken ribs or a variety of lung complaints. While pain is certainly a factor even when one is at rest, it may be worse when taking a deep breath or when coughing. Depending on the cause of the pain, treatment could include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, prescription painkillers, ice, rest or physical therapy. Breathing exercises may also be necessary to ensure that the lungs are filling completely and to decrease complications in the lungs.

Spinal Fusion

Spinal injuries from vehicle collisions, falls, traumatic accidents and other medical conditions may require spinal fusion surgery. Spinal fusion involves two or more spinal vertebra getting welded, or fused together. This procedure can cause pain from the rubbing of the two vertebrae while in motion. The primary goal of surgery and pre-op and post-op physical therapy is to stop the movement between the two bones.

Spinal Kyphosis

Spinal kyphosis is a noticeably curved spine in the upper area of the back. It is also known as “hunchback” or “roundback.” The condition is known to cause fatigue throughout the entire upper regions of the body. Physical therapy can introduce a treatment plan that helps strengthen the muscles and improves posture. Continued periodic physical therapy proves to be the best solution to this problem. With continued treatment, additional health problems caused by spinal kyphosis can be avoided.

Spinal Lordosis

Spinal lordosis is an unusual arch to the lower back. It presents symptoms of difficulty in moving, lifting, bending, stooping and cause frequent lower back pain. Treatment includes routine physical therapy and muscle relaxing/development exercises. Our physical therapists will work towards motion improvement and balance controls, with the ultimate goal to become pain-free. Physical therapy can also assist in developing stronger muscles to control movement and flexibility better.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is the graduated narrowing of the spinal column. Over time it will create difficulty in walking, standing, and sitting. Increased numbness and loss of control in the legs are direct results of spinal stenosis. Physical therapy treatment for spinal stenosis teaches each patient better ways to go about their daily activities that lessen stress on the spine. Exercise to strengthen muscles will help you maintain complete use of your legs and back, reducing fears of falls and stumbling. While completing treatment you will see a reduction in pain, fatigue, and numbness for an improved quality of life.



Serving Portland OR | Vancouver WA
(503) 236-3108 East Portland
(360) 737-3346 Vancouver Clinic


East Portland
5736 NE Glisan St.
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 236-3108

1700 Broadway St., Suite 101
Vancouver, WA 98663
(360) 737-3346

Spine and Back Conditions in Portland OR and Vancouver WA

Seeing Patients in the following Portland and Vancouver areas:

SE Portland | NE Portland | Gresham | Happy Valley | Clackamas | Milwaukie | Mt Tabor | Belmont | Lloyd Center | Laurelhurst | Hollywood District | Downtown Portland | Beaverton | Tigard | Hillsboro | Cedar Mill | Cornell | Sylvan | Cedar Hills

Downtown Vancouver | Fruit Valley | Hazel Dell | Felida | Cascade Park | Camas Washington

East PDX:
(503) 236-3108
(360) 737-3346