Combining Innovation and Direct Manipulation Help Patients Overcome Low Back Pain

As a physical therapist, it is imperative to encourage patients to overcome low back pain through innovation and direct manipulation.

Woman with Lower Back Pain.

In recent days, Good Morning America, WebMD, the publication The Lancet, and numerous physical therapy professionals have collaborated on the benefits associated with physical therapy for patients suffering from lower back pain.

Numerous studies and reviews of patients have concluded that the non-surgical approach of direct manipulation to the body has tremendous long-term benefits over medication and surgical treatments of low back pain.

The greatest evil is physical pain….”Saint Augustine

As a physical therapy professional, you know the benefits of non-drug and non-surgical approaches; however, today’s health care systems, insurers, and providers are not displaying a lot of enthusiasm for these approaches. As a result, there are no steps being taken to initiate this type of practice and to put new payment models into place.

If more evidence was put into place, physical therapy may become a frontline treatment for low back pain. Self-management, physical therapy treatment, and even psychological-based treatments should be encouraged as they offer the most benefits for patients.

According to statistics, pain in the lower back is considered to be the number one cause for disability – not just in the United States, but worldwide. Publications state that in areas of low and middle-income levels, low back pain is becoming increasingly more prevalent.

Not only are medical providers encouraging rest, medication treatment, and surgical treatments, but many physical therapists are encouraging patients to engage in these types of treatments.

If this continues, physical therapy will not become a frontline treatment for low back pain.

The gap between low back pain treatment evidence and practice must be closed. This is especially true when it comes to care associated with the spine, and the back, in general. Currently, providers are encouraging the use of potentially dangerous pain drugs, expensive imaging, and high-cost surgeries to help patients overcome issues associated with low back pain.

As physical therapists, we must not engage in this level of encouragement. We must ensure that our patients understand the importance of physical therapy as the ONLY form of treatment.

Many other mistakes are being made by physical therapists – apart from recommending the usage of medication and surgery. These include using TENS units on the lower back, utilizing ultrasound imaging, lumbar traction, and other types of physical modalities.

Research shows us that treating low back pain successfully takes a multi-disciplinary approach. Innovation and direct manipulation from physical therapy is not only productive, it is necessary.

In order to truly assist our patients, we must be willing to encourage that which we do best – physical therapy. The evidence is there. The rates of success are high. We know how to manipulate the back and how to help our patients learn self-management and self-care techniques.

Now, we must put what we know best where it needs to go – to our patients.

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