A recent Consumer Reports survey of its subscribers found physical therapy to be one of the top treatment choices for back pain, according to the survey results in the May 2009 issue of the magazine.
Physical therapy and other hands-on treatments were among the top five in the results. The survey of 14,000 Consumer Reports subscribers, who had reported back pain in the last year but had not had surgery, rated consumer satisfaction of treatments they had used to alleviate their back pain. Most of the participants, according to the article, had tried more than five different treatments to ease the pain.
“Physical therapy focuses not on just easing the pain, but also correcting the cause as much as possible, and also teaches the patient how to prevent future pain and injuries, ” says Jayne Fleck Pool, Vice President of Clinical Services and Compliance at Physiotherapy Associates.
A March 23 segment on back pain on NBC’s Today Show highlighted the story of Linda Michel, 39, a woman with severe back pain who is using physical therapy to treat her back problems. According to Michel, after six weeks of physical therapy, the pain is almost gone.
“What I am learning are different things I can take home with me. Things I can continue to do to ensure the health of my back,” said Michel.
Michel’s intention, according to the segment, was to avoid surgery through physical therapy. Others with back pain should consider non-invasive alternatives before having surgery as well. While medications are an option, they can often have unwanted side effects, in addition to the long-term cost. The Consumer Reports article urged consumers to take into consideration those possible side effects before use.
Click here to learn more about physical therapy as an alternative to long term medications.
“Clinical trials have shown that about half of the people who take (opioid pain relievers) suffer adverse effects such as drowsiness, respiratory depression and gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation, reflux, heartburn, cramping, nausea and vomiting,” said Dr. Orly Avitzur, M.D., in the May 2009 issue.
When surgery is an option, it is important to also consider the recovery time after, and the possibility that the surgery may not work. In a 2008 survey from Consumer Reports, only 34 percent of those surveyed were “very satisfied” with the results of their surgery.
Another telling result of the 2009 Consumer Reports back pain survey is that 58 percent of participants wished they had done more exercising to strengthen their backs. A physical therapist can provide safe and effective exercises to help strengthen those supporting muscles to prevent pain and possible injury. More than 40 percent of the survey respondents who had tried exercise found it helped “a lot.”