Does One Size Fit All in Physical Therapy?

In our fast paced, instant gratification world we want solutions to our problems the same day as their arrival.  This is no different in low back pain, a common, costly condition affecting over 90% of adults.  Patient's hurting from low back pain symptoms often turn to the internet, friends, or their primary care physician for quick solutions to their problem.  Although low back pain is common, the reasons behind the pain are multifactorial in nature limiting the effectiveness of a one size fits all approach.  Thus, patients seeking advice online, from friends, or their physician may be given an inappropriate or ineffective treatment plan leading to lost time, lost employment and money.  In the past, clinical guidelines on low back pain have been created by medical and government agencies in an attempt to help guide decision making for all patients with low back pain.  Not surprisingly, research has shown the limitation of this one size fits all approach with lower costs and improved outcomes observed with Physical Therapy compared to guidelines.  

A more recent article in British Journal of Sports Medicine was published to compare the outcomes between general advice and patient specific Physical Therapy treatments (Ford et al. 2016).  200 patients with low back pain, less than 6 months in nature, were randomized to either an education group or to 10 sessions of Physical Therapy interventions including manual therapy and exercise.  Consistent with prior research a patient specific plan of care showed better outcomes at 10, 26, and 52 weeks compared with an education only approach.  

This article adds to the existing literature indicating the importance of early, patient specific Physical Therapy treatment compared to advice or a wait and see approach.  To learn more on how Physical Therapy can help get accelerate your recovery from low back pain contact a local Physical Therapist.