Time Treats Back Pain More Effectively than Physical Therapy: Study

According to findings of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), early physical therapy is only capable of providing modest results when used to treat low back pain. Researchers involved in the study are saying that discomforts associated with low back pain tend to subside by itself, with time.

During the study, researchers followed over 200 individuals suffering from recent-onset low back pain. These people were randomly assigned to no treatment or physical therapy during the first month after the onset of their pain. The physical therapy used included exercise and back manipulation.

After three months, the researchers found that when compared with the effects of no treatment, early physical therapy managed to offer just a modest progress in the participants’ ability of functioning. However, after one year, it was found that there was no significant difference in the ability of functioning among the members of the two groups.

The researchers further informed that the participants didn’t report any improvement in pain after undergoing the therapy for 1 month, 3 months or 1 year.

The study’s lead researcher Julie Fritz said that individuals suffering from pain in their lower back usually get better pretty fast and physical therapy helps them to recover a little faster.

However, according to her, there’s no huge difference between the improvement offered by physical therapy and the improvement which comes with time. She said that the most effective ways of treating low back pain are exercising regularly and staying active, although that might be a little painful. Fritz, who teaches physical therapy at the University of Utah, said that the ultimate goal for people looking to recover should be to keep moving, which often happens without any assistance.

Recently obtained numbers suggest that around 70% of people suffer from low back pain in their lifetime and this health issue accounts for 2 to 5% of the doctor visits.

Edward Michna, the director of Boston-based Brigham & Women’s Hospital’s pain-trials center, said that chronic back pain is an extremely complex health issue and has association with a number of medical, social and psychological factors.

Michna, who didn’t have any role in the above mentioned study, added that although early physical therapy can assist back pain sufferers, it doesn’t change the long-term outcomes and is not capable of preventing back pain-related disabilities.

The study authors reported that current guidelines recommend delaying introduction of physical therapy by a few weeks for allowing spontaneous recovery.