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The cure for back pain

The cure for back pain

Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CGFI


Back pain is very common.  It affects up to 80% of Americans every year.  How can we cure it?  Very easy.  With exercise.

A study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal in January 2016 investigated the results of previous studies regarding low back pain and found that based on the available evidence, the cure for back pain is exercise and education.  Furthermore, there was little support for the use of back braces or shoe inserts to treat low back pain.

Exercise and education is an integral part of physical therapy treatment, because your body is something that you should be able to perform basic maintenance on if you have any problems.  Part of our goal is to be able to educate our patients on what could be bothering them and what caused it.  But one of the issues with low back pain is that if you’ve had back pain in the past, you’re at a higher risk of having it again in the future.  That risk sometimes is as high as 80% in the first year after an incident.

The problem with this is that most people will think that physical therapy has failed because their back pain did not improve or went it away but returned.  So the preventative cure of exercise and movement becomes forgotten, as people will look for other answers and treatments such as surgery or other passive treatments.

The JAMA study urges patients to be more aware of the evidence and be consistent with their exercise program.  Commonly, patients will fail and not improve because they aren’t compliant or consistent with their home exercise program.  I always tell my patients that they usually see a physiotherapist for 1-2 hours a week, depending on how often their appointments are…  So that leaves 166 hours left in the week that they are tasked with taking care of their own bodies.  

We, as physiotherapists have many manual, hands-on techniques that can reduce back pain, but the most powerful tool remains within the patient.  It’s not what we do that makes the difference, it’s what you do afterwards that really can change things.  Remember the cure for back pain is exercise.

If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit us.



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