The study involved 200 people who reported recent lower back pain. Half of them were asked to undergo early physical therapy, while the rest were given no treatment in the first month after the onset of back pain.
Study revealed that after three months of physical therapy the improvements were not statistically significant. Additionally, after a year there were no improvements in function in both groups.
Pain levels did not go lower after one month, three or 12 months of therapy. Julie Fritz of the University of Utah and lead author of the study explained that lower back pain gets fixed really quickly, but therapy helped patients recover “a little quicker.”
“But the difference between the improvement that comes with time and the improvement that comes with therapy is not a huge difference,”
Dr. Fritz recommends lower back pain patients to stay physically active and workout despite recurring pain. But staying active does not involves assistance in most cases. Lower back pain affects 70 percent of teens and adults, while up to five percent of GP visits are linked to it.
Edward Michna of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who was not part in the study said that back pain also has psychological and social underpinnings. This is way it is essential to be physically active. While physical therapy may also help, on the long run it does not prevent back pain from recurring or impair the patient.
Past research also found that allowing the body to recover for a few weeks before undergoing therapy leads to better outcomes than early physical therapy. Fritz explained that everyone who finds it difficult to stay physically active or need help to start exercising should opt for physical therapy.
Additionally, because physical therapy does not have side effects as some drugs do, it is highly recommended over other courses of action. Fritz added that when you experience lower back pain you shouldn’t go to bed, as previous guidelines recommended. You should exercise instead.
Researchers cautioned that physical therapy is not a ‘cure-all’ solution to their back problems. Most people get better without the therapy even if they decide to sit it out, as study authors put it.
A paper on the recent findings was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Image Source: Flickr
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