If you’ve ever suffered from a bout of low back pain, then you know that finding relief is often any patient’s main goal. And with low back pain sending 2.5 million Americans to hospital emergency rooms every year, that’s a lot of patients seeking treatment options to relieve the pain.

Medications—or combinations of medications—are often the standard of care for low back pain, particularly in the emergency department setting. But according to recent research, including an Annals of Emergency Medicine study, certain commonly prescribed combinations of drugs proved no more effective in alleviating pain than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs alone or no medications at all. Besides proving relatively ineffective in managing back pain, some commonly prescribed medications come with a long list of side effects from drowsiness to nausea for many patients.

What about surgery? As it turns out, researchers have found that some surgical procedures for back pain are no more effective than sham procedures (used as a scientific control in clinical studies, these faked surgical procedures omit the step thought to be therapeutically necessary). In fact, a study that published in the journal Pain Medicine revealed comparable long-term outcomes regardless of whether patients were assigned to the procedure or sham procedure cohort.

Luckily, patients are beginning to see the benefits of pursuing safe alternatives to medications and surgery. A physical therapy regimen for low back pain is designed to reduce soft tissue pain, improve function and build muscle strength.

“It was refreshing to find someone who did not take advantage of an opportunity, but rather, be a true partner in what was best for ME. He consistently followed up with me and took a true personal interest in my recovery. I HIGHLY recommend him for his expertise, professionalism, and caring nature.” -a former client at Judice Sports & Rehab

Although studies show that the long-term outcomes of surgery and physical therapy are similar for the low back pain patient population, the short-term risks differ. Surgical procedures for low back pain are invasive and like any surgery, come with the risk of infection, nerve damage, and blood clots. However, similar outcomes can be achieved with an active, standardized physical therapy regimen without the high price tag and prospect of complications. PTs design programs for low back pain that involve general conditioning, lower extremity strengthening exercises, and postural education.

“Greg has helped me with back, shoulder, and hip problems over the years. He is always extremely professional and I am always blown away by his wealth of knowledge. He has made a great positive impact on my quality of life, and I will be forever grateful. Highly recommend!” -Mary: a former client at Judice Sports & Rehab

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for back pain so patients should work with rehab professionals, doctors, and other healthcare practitioners to find the best course of treatment for them.

About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association

Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit www.ppsapta.org.

Judice Sports & Rehab is not just another physical therapy practice. They are the leaders in high quality, personalized care. Their individual approach is hips and shoulders above the competition!

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