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Study Shows Physiotherapy as Effective as Surgery

Physiotherapy has now been proven to be as effective as surgery in treating back pain. This was recently discovered by a research done in the US.

The Common Problem

Back pain is a common complaint among 90 percent of adults. Surgery is often the solution to this condition. However, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that physiotherapy is as effective as surgery in treating lower back pain, specifically lumbar spinal stenosis. This is the leading cause of back pain among the elderly.

This condition causes tingling sensation, numbness, and shooting pain in the lower back. Lumbar spinal stenosis can worsen and leave patients unable to move and even lose their bowel and bladder functions.

The pain is caused by the compression of nerves in the back and usually occurs when walking or standing up. Most patients feel better by bending forward. This explains the hunched posture of the elderly when walking.

The Study

A group of researchers in the US wanted to know if physiology would be effective in treating the condition because it has less risk of complications compared to surgery.

They followed 169 consenting patients aged over 50 years old. Back in 2000 to 2005, these patients have agreed to get surgery for their lumbar spinal stenosis. For the study, they assigned 87 patients for surgery while 82 patients had to see a physiotherapist. The physiotherapy group received physical therapy sessions twice a week.

Dr. Anthony Delitto, the head of the physical therapy department at University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, noted that surgery has 15 percent complication rate.

The participants of the study were allowed to receive their surgery anytime. Only 57 percent of the patients opted to have a surgery at the follow-up of the study.
In two years’ time, both groups of surgery and physiotherapy experienced the same relief from symptoms and pain.

The study showed that no matter what the choices patients made, be it for surgery or physiotherapy, the patients experience the same benefits two years after.