No one back pain treatment method works for everyone, but exercise therapy is generally considered to be a crucial component of treatment. Strong, balanced muscles throughout the core help to support proper posture and spinal stability.
Yet some people don’t experience significant gains from exercise therapy. There could be many reasons for this, including a cause of pain that isn’t being addressed in physical therapy or an inadequate exercise plan. One study recently sought to identify factors that play a role in the success or failure of exercise therapy; the results can help patients and medical professionals avoid common pitfalls and increase the likelihood of success.
Factors of Treatment Success
The study tested the disability scores of 211 patients before and after seven sessions of physical therapy, as well as at a one-year follow-up. Success was defined as a 30% or greater improvement in disability score.
One significant finding was that patients who didn’t respond to therapy immediately after their seven sessions – those with higher baseline pain scores – were not in the failure group at the one-year follow-up. This, combined with the fact that adherence to the exercise program corresponded with treatment success at follow-up, can encourage patients to stick with their exercise plans even if they don’t see immediate results. Adherence to the program doubled the rate of success.
Another significant factor for success identified by the study was better mental health at baseline. This result is consistent with the large and ever-growing body of research that attests to the connection between mental health and physical pain. It suggests that psychotherapeutic interventions are important for those with anxiety, depression or fear of movement.
Factors of Treatment Failure
As mentioned above, higher pain scores indicated poor results immediately after physical therapy but not at the one-year follow-up. Two factors associated with negative results at the follow-up were older age and medication use.
Medication is a standard go-to form of pain management today and, in cases where severe pain interferes with daily life, it is called for. But medication should not be treated as a given for everyone with pain or as an ideal long-term treatment component. This study suggests that medication use may hinder the effectiveness of more proactive forms of treatment.
A third factor associated with poor outcomes was the use of other forms of treatment.
Age can’t be altered, but other factors can. You can increase the likelihood of experiencing positive results from your back pain exercise program by adhering to it, avoiding medication when unnecessary and attending to your mental well-being.
Learn more about the study at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24429917?dopt=Abstract.