Over the past month or so, we’ve been focusing on how physical therapy affects chronic pain.  Lower back pain is one of the conditions where statistically speaking, most patients treat it with prescription opioids rather than pursue alternative therapy.  In 2015, nearly 1 in 3 (12 million) Medicare beneficiaries received at least 1 prescription of opioids (OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Fentanyl or their generic equivalents), at an estimated cost of $4.1 billion, according to a June 2016 report from the US Department of Health and Human Services.  That’s a big number, and an even bigger price tag!  The question is, are these drugs helping restore functionality or just prolonging the pain without fixing the problem?

According the APTA:

If you need another reason to exercise, a new systematic review and meta-analysis links exercise to a 35% reduction in the risk for low back pain.

The review (“Separate Studies Support Exercise to Treat, Prevent LBP” – January 11, 2016) found that combining exercise with education provides even better results: a 45% risk reduction.

Additionally, exercise was found to reduce sick leave time for low back pain by 78%.

But if that prevention approach seems all too easy, consistency is key. Researchers found that the risk reduction benefits of exercise for low back pain “disappeared” after 1 year, likely due to individuals discontinuing exercise programs.

“The finding raises the important issue that, for exercise to remain protective against future LBP, it is likely that ongoing exercise is required,” the authors write. “Prevention programs focusing on long-term behavior change in exercise habits seem to be important.”

Consistently, the numbers prove that physical therapy, movement, exercise all contribute to increased motion and reduced pain.  As noted in the quote from APTA, however, consistency with the exercise is key.  This sort of therapy is about lifestyle and behavior change as much as it is about learning and practicing exercises prescribed by a physical therapist.

At Roanoke Therapy Services, we can help reduce your chronic lower back pain, and increase your mobility and range of motion through specialized physical therapy treatment.  Don’t let pain keep you from living your life, contact us today!