Starting physical therapy right after lower back pain begins may provide relief sooner compared to doing nothing, but makes little difference over the long term, a U.S.
Researchers followed more than 200 patients with recent onset of lower back pain for a year, randomly assigning them to receive either physical therapy or no treatment for four weeks at the start of the study.
One shortcoming of the study is that more patients dropped out from the usual care group than the physical therapy group, the authors acknowledge.
Another problem with usual care is that it’s essentially not any care at all, noted Dr. Ryan Petering, a sports medicine researcher at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland who wasn’t involved in the study.
To get a more complete picture of the benefits of physical therapy, it would be helpful to compare people who got this intervention to another group of people who got instructions on how to do exercises on their own at home, Petering said by email.
“For many patients, dealing with chronic back pain (the category you’d be in if still experiencing it at one year) requires maintenance therapy – not exclusively with a therapist but doing a home exercise program, possibly one given by to you by a therapist,” Petering said.
It’s also possible that providing physical therapy over a longer period of time might have produced additional benefits, but it’s chiropractor dallas hard to determine that from the current study, said Steven George, a physical therapy researcher at the University of Florida who wasn’t involved in the study.
Even if the benefit is limited to the first three months after the onset of pain, however, patients may think physical therapy is worth the effort, George said by email.
“If patients knew that their symptom chiropractic treatment for headaches relief is not going to be complete, but it has a chance of placing them at a better recovery trajectory earlier, then patients would likely be in favor,” George said.