(Mirror Daily, United States) – A new study suggests that low back pain subsides by itself with time, and it has the same benefits as undergoing early physical therapy, which helps only in some cases and with modest results.
Researchers monitored more than 200 patients with recent-onset low back pain who were randomly assigned to either follow physical therapy or undergo no treatment during the first month after their pain began. Those in the physical therapy group were instructed to exercise in addition to back manipulation.
In the three-month follow up, the participants’ ability to function was only modestly improved by early physical therapy, compared with the control group. A year after the experiment, researchers found no significant difference in function between the two groups.
What’s even more surprising is that the participants undergoing therapy reported no significant relief in pain after one month, three months or one year. Author and researcher Julie Fritz, a professor of physical therapy at the University of Utah, said lower back pain usually subsides on its own, and physical therapy usually offers only the slightest boost in getting there quicker.
Bottom line is that the difference between therapeutic relief of back pain and the improvement that comes with time is rather insignificant. Prof Fritz explained the better course of treatment is to keep exercising the pain away. Moving accelerates recovery, and patients rarely need assistance with knowing how to stay active.
The study found that lower back pain only accounts for 2 percent to 5 percent of all doctor visits, in spite of the fact that roughly 70 percent of people experience it at least once in their lifetime.
Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the research addressed the problem of chronic back pain and the various factors that influence it; medical, psychological, and social. Even though assisted physical therapy could help people active when new back pain occurs, the study reveals it does not change overall long-term outcomes.
Current guidelines recommend delaying immediate physical therapy so as to allow spontaneous recovery do its job for the first few weeks. Some other studies, however, suggest early physical therapy has its merits and patients could benefit from it.
This new research does not intend to indict physical therapy, and it can be a healthier option than drugs or alternative cures. It also won’t harm the healing the process by teaching people how to stay active. This in itself is a great improvement from what people were told to do 20 years ago, which is go to bed.
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