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Physical Therapy in Low Back Pain Treatment

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By Dr. Adam M. Cramer, PT, DPT

If chronic back pain is eriously impacting your quality of life, you are not alone. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons estimates between 75 and 85 percent of Americans are impacted by this challenging condition at some point in their lives. Collectively, they spend $80 to $100 billion a year in a search for relief from their back pain. Low back pain remains the most common cause of lost work days and missed attendance at important events. It is non-discriminating in that it attacks both men and women equally and vicious and relentless when it hits, stopping us in our tracks, and making even basic movements excruciating.

Why physical therapy should be your first line of treatment. Instead of rushing out for pain medications or getting on a waiting list for surgery, more and more physicians are recommending people with chronic low back pain see a physical therapist first. In the state of Ohio, you do not need a physician’s referral or prescription to have your physical therapy services covered. You can see any physical therapist that you want and no physician can direct you to go to see their own or anyone else’s. You have the choice!

A mountain of research published in peer-reviewed journals around the world supports this idea. Physical therapy should be your first line of attack on lower back pain because it has proven to be effective, it saves money and it prevents dependency on pharmaceuticals.

Case for physical therapy heightened with recent study. More recently, a study published in May of 2018 in the journal “Health Services Research” says trying physical therapy first can help curb reliance on opioid painkillers. This study was conducted from the University of Washington in Seattle and George Washington University in Washington, DC. They analyzed more than 150,000 commercial health insurance claims filed between 2009 and 2013 in six northwestern states.

The researchers found that patients who saw a physical therapist for low back pain before trying other treatments had an 89 percent lower probability of eventually needing an opioid prescription, a 28 percent lower probability of having any advanced imaging services, and a 15 percent lower probability of making one or more emergency room visits to a hospital.

Bianca Frogner, a health economist at the University of Washington and lead author of the study, went so far in a follow-up interview with National Public Radio as to point out that people who get trained in physical therapy have very specialized knowledge about pain management, especially with the muscular skeletal system. 

“They might actually understand this pain better than the average family physician,” she said.

How physical therapists treat low back pain. Our goals are straightforward when patients arrive at MyoFit Clinic suffering from low back pain. First, we take an immediate step to decrease the pain; then we work to increase your mobility and ability to function creating a long-term program you can continue at home to prevent your pain from recurring.

Trigger point dry needling is a physical therapy treatment that involves inserting needles into myofascial trigger points within muscles and soft tissue. The treatment focuses on reducing and eliminating the trigger points and restores range of motion. It is especially effective in patients who have been suffering from chronic and acute low back pain.

Specific exercises that help treat low back pain include proper stretching, dynamic stabilization exercises to strengthen the spine’s secondary muscles, and core strengthening exercises use to strengthen the low back muscles and abdominal muscles.

Doctors of physical therapy will show you exactly how to manage your symptoms, correct them and keep them from coming back again successfully avoiding surgery. 

Dr. Adam M. Cramer, PT, DPT, is a licensed physical therapist, Pain specialist and owner of MyoFit Clinic at 14950 S. Springdale Ave., Middlefield (44062) 440-632-1007 and 11850 Mayfield Road, Chardon (44024 ) 440-286-1007.

References:

American Association of Neurological Surgeons: Low back pain. http://www.aans.org/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Low-Back-Pain.

American Physical Therapy Association. Study: Early Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain Reduces Costs, Resources. News Release. April 9, 2015 http://www.apta.org/Media/Releases/Consumer/2015/4/9/.

Neighmond, Patti. “Trying Physical Therapy First for Low Back Pain May Curb Use of Opiods.” National Public Radio report. May 23, 2018. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/05/23/613500084/trying-physical-therapy-first-for-low-back-pain-may-curb-use-of-opioids.

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