Active vs. Passive Treatments for Spine Injuries

Active vs. Passive Treatments for Back Injuries in Los Angeles, CA

For most people, the first attempt at treating a back injury instinctively involves getting some rest or taking over-the-counter medications. These are referred to as “passive” treatments or actions because you’re simply treating your symptoms. However, a fairly serious back injury is more likely to respond better to treatment that requires you to participate or be “active” in some way. 

Patients with back injuries tend to enjoy better long-term benefits with a combination of both passive and active treatments, although spine specialists and physical therapists usually recommend treatments considered active more often than passive treatments. Here’s a closer look at the differences between these two treatment options for spine-related injuries.

Passive Back Injury Treatments

Passive treatments in which you’re not actively doing anything yourself typically treat the symptoms associated with a back injury but not the underlying source(s). Even so, passive treatments can serve a useful purpose by playing a role in the initial recovery process. These treatments can also complement some active treatments, and the successful combination of the two can eliminate the need for surgical intervention, such as back fusion surgery or spinal fusion alternatives. Beverly Hills patients who use remedies considered passive can still get some degree of relief, but it’s usually on a short-term basis. Passive treatments for spine-related injuries typically include: 

• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opiate painkillers, muscle relaxants, and other types of medication 
• Rest for a brief time, usually after an initial back injury is sustained 
• Activity modification to give spine-related parts and structures time to heal 
• Immobilization—also usually limited to a brief period

Chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture may also be considered passive treatments in the sense that you normally don’t have to do anything to enjoy possible benefits associated with these methods. This is also true of massage therapy and similar treatments. However, such treatments also tend to have therapeutic benefits, so they’re usually not grouped in with other common passive treatment options.

Active Back Injury Treatments

With active treatments, you’ll be engaging in some type of action or activity to strengthen spine-supporting muscle groups and target key spinal structures. Active treatments essentially pick up where passive treatments leave off by addressing the underlying sources of back pain, not just the symptoms. There are many treatments for back injuries that can be considered “active,” some of which include: 

• Therapeutic stretching techniques 
• Low- to moderate-intensity exercise (e.g., cycling, walking, swimming, and elliptical machine use) 
• Physical therapy that involves patient-specific exercises and stretches 
• Strength training that targets spine-supporting muscle groups 
• Controlled-movement disciplines that are stimulating in less stressful ways (e.g., yoga, Pilates, tai chi) 
• Balance training 

There are some equally beneficial back injury treatments that fall somewhere in the middle between passive and active. For instance, injections are basically passive, but they may make it easier for you to actively participate in physical therapy sessions. Bracing is more passive as well. Even so, it could actively manage back pain by preventing a condition such as scoliosis from becoming worse. The particular combination of passive and active treatments that’s right for you will depend on how your back was injured and other patient-specific factors. 

If you’ve experienced any type of back injury and aren’t able to get quick relief on your own, don’t hesitate to see a Beverly Hills spine surgeon right away. The spinal health specialists at The Spine Institute have been pioneers in the industry for years, and they continue to lead the field in innovative treatment techniques for spine injuries and every type of spine pain. Call one of our friendly staff at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.