In previous posts, we have discussed some of the methods used to treat back pain. One common method of treatment is physical therapy. However, according to a recent study published in JAMA, physical therapy may not provide significant benefits for patients suffering from lower back pain.
The JAMA study divided patients with back pain into two groups. The first group participated in sessions with a physical therapist. The second group was simply told that the pain would get better if they maintained an active lifestyle.
Although the physical therapy group demonstrated more improvement over the first 3 months (based on a scale that measures disability from lower back pain), after 1 year both groups’ results were substantially the same.
Additionally, the study did not find any meaningful differences in the groups’ pain intensity, quality of life, or number of visits to health care providers.
Thus, the study would seem to suggest that while physical therapy may help for a limited amount of time, in the long run it may not necessarily be an effective treatment method for back pain.
Notably, the sample size for the study was small (207 people), so further research may be necessary to more precisely determine the extent of the benefits provided by physical therapy.
See also http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/14/physical-therapy-may-not-benefit-back-pain/?smid=tw-nytimeswell&smtyp=cur&_r=0.