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Orthop Clin North Am. 2004 Jan;35(1):57-64.

Effective physical treatment for chronic low back pain.

Author information

  • School of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, P.O. Box 170, Lidcombe, New South Wales 1825, Australia. C.Maher@fhs.usyd.edu.au

Abstract

It is now feasible to adopt an evidence-based approach when providing physical treatment for patients with chronic LBP. A summary of the efficacy of a range of physical treatments is provided in Table 1. The evidence-based primary care options are exercise, laser, massage, and spinal manipulation; however, the latter three have small or transient effects that limit their value as therapies for chronic LBP. In contrast, exercise produces large reductions in pain and disability, a feature that suggests that exercise should play a major role in the management of chronic LBP. Physical treatments, such as acupuncture, backschool, hydrotherapy, lumbar supports, magnets, TENS, traction, ultrasound, Pilates therapy, Feldenkrais therapy, Alexander technique, and craniosacral therapy are either of unknown value or ineffective and so should not be considered. Outside of primary care, multidisciplinary treatment or functional restoration is effective; however, the high cost probably means that these programs should be reserved for patients who do not respond to cheaper treatment options for chronic LBP. Although there are now effective treatment options for chronic LBP, it needs to be acknowledged that the problem of chronic LBP is far from solved. Though treatments can provide marked improvements in the patient's condition, the available evidence suggests that the typical chronic LBP patient is left with some residual pain and disability. Developing new, more powerful treatments and refining the current group of known effective treatments is the challenge for the future.

PMID:
15062718
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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