Getting a Handle on the Best Treatments for Low Back PainAn episode of back pain is common for most adults. For 90 percent of these patients, the problem goes away within six to eight weeks. The results aren't always so good for the 10 percent who experience ongoing back pain.
Researchers around the world are trying to find out the best treatment for back pain. Two groups are looked at: patients with acute pain (lasting less than eight weeks) and those with chronic pain lasting more than eight weeks). The focus of this study was patients with chronic low back pain (LBP).
Chronic LBP patients were divided into two groups. Both groups were treated by a physical therapist. One group received exercise therapy (ET), while the other group was treated with manual therapy. Manual therapy (MT) is a form of manipulating or moving the joints in the spine.
Both groups got better with these two methods. Results were measured on the basis of pain level, range of motion, sick leave, general health, and function. Patients in the MT group had twice the pain relief and improved health when compared to the ET group. Patients in the MT group went back to work sooner, too.
This study adds to the growing proof that exercise and manual therapy are both helpful for patients with low back pain. Manual therapy improves all areas measured. The gains are typically made in the first eight weeks of treatment. The authors report that these positive results are still present a year later.
Olav Frode Aure, PT, et al. Manual Therapy and Exercise Therapy in Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain. In Spine. March 15, 2003. Vol. 28. No. 6. Pp. 525-532.
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