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The ACP Gives Physical Therapy a Nod in the Treatment of Low Back Pain

Updated: Apr 12, 2019

New York, NY – The American College of Physicians (ACP) released new guidelines to steer doctors away from scribbling scripts for painkillers in favor of noninvasive treatments such as physical therapy for low back pain. This news affects a large population, as low back pain is a close second to the common cold in a list of ailments driving Americans to the doctor’s office.

Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the ACP committee developed these guidelines to target adults with acute, subacute or chronic low back pain. The committee aims to influence physicians to consider alternatives to costly imaging, medication, and surgery when devising a treatment plan for patients with low back pain. About 25% of Americans report incidences of low back pain lasting at least one day in the past three months.

According to the guidelines, most cases of acute and subacute low back pain eventually resolve themselves despite the treatment prescribed. For chronic cases of low back pain, the ACP recommends beginning with nonpharmacologic treatment such as exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, yoga, superficial heat, and massage. Due to high risk of addiction, opioids are being reserved as a last-resort treatment option and only in patients who have failed other interventions.

“Many people come to physical therapy for lower back pain and their symptoms subside in just a short period using manual therapy and therapeutic exercise without any need for medications” says Dr. Theresa Marko, PT, DPT, MS, CEIS – Marko Physical Therapy.

Treatment plans for low back pain should be tailored to specific needs because the cause and symptoms may vary from person to person. A physical therapist begins with a patient evaluation to identify the factors contributing to a patient’s specific back program and will individualize the program based on the results and observations.

“Low back pain is one of the most common things we treat in the clinic, with many different symptoms and presentations. Not all causes of back pain are related to your MRI results and the person must be looked at wholistically as one kinetic chain, from the foot to the shoulder as well as posture and daily habits. We consider all of these things to to help them restore their body and return to full function” says Dr. Marko.

Now that the ACP has used new evidence to update the guidelines released more than a decade before, those experiencing low back pain have even more reason to explore the benefits of alternative treatments such as physical therapy.

Dr. Theresa Marko, PT, DPT, MSPT, CEIS, is a physical therapist & owner at Marko Physical Therapy, PLLC.

Dr. Marko specializes in general orthopedics, as well as adolescent injuries and pediatric issues. If you would like to reach out to her you can by email, or phone.

Phone: 347.766.5979


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