How Physical Therapy Can Help Low Back Pain

By: PT Todd Rech


Low back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical help and accounts for nearly 10% of all emergency room visits globally.  Low back pain is so common that we know an estimated 80% to 85% of the population will experience it at some point in their lives and it will recur in 50% of those cases.  Globally, low back pain affects 619 million people!

LBP (low back pain) affects people’s home lives and their jobs. The financial burden of low back pain is enormous.  Over a decade ago, lower back pain cost the American Economy between $560 and $635 billion which has likely only increased.  Of course, financial costs affect those with low back pain, too. Each year, the direct (and some indirect) costs are often more than $50 billion. If you imagine the hours of missed work due to pain, function, and/or medical appointments, it’s easy to see how expensive this problem can be!

As a Physical Therapist who has been treating low back pain for over 25 years, I’ve observed many patients trying to find the magic bullet to “fix” their back.  In my experience, the best approach  is a multimodal (more than one treatment type) approach, starting with more conservative treatments and moving toward more invasive treatments as indicated.  It is vital to work through that process with a provider who is familiar with those steps and can guide you, while answering any questions.

Physical Therapists are positioned in a critical point in the health care system to have a positive impact on the treatment of low back pain. At Body One, your Physical Therapist would do a thorough physical assessment, including your history and symptoms, to determine if you’re a good candidate for PT or if (in rare cases) you might need further medical testing or imaging.

Physical Therapists may utilize various interventions, depending on what we learned from your initial assessment.   Education should always be part of the treatment sessions and we focus on ensuring patients understand their condition and treatment plans. The more that you learn about your condition, the better you are able to care for it, and actively help in your recovery.

Physical Therapists are experts when it comes to prescribing exercise.  It is important to have the correct exercises prescribed when it comes to low back pain.  An exercise that is good for one person’s condition, might actually do more harm to someone else! This is why seeing a PT is important; many people try to look up exercises on the internet and that can be very hit or miss. Seeing a PT means we create a custom treatment plan that fits your unique situation and not general exercises that may not help.

Most Physical Therapists will also include a form of manual therapy into your treatment intervention.  This might include soft tissue massage, joint mobilization, or manual traction.   Manual therapies can often enhance your response to your exercise program.

In my experience, modalities should be used sparingly.  Examples of modalities include: Electrical stimulation (TENS, microcurrent, Ultrasound).   An active approach should always be encouraged.

In summary, low back pain negatively affects many people in society, has a significant impact on the health care systems, and enormous financial impacts.  Physical Therapy can play a significant role in helping to ease these burdens and create a better quality of life for individuals suffering with low back pain.   If you are experiencing low back, please consider seeking Physical Therapy for an approach to healthcare that fits for your current condition!

Body One Physical Therapy has a team of compassionate, expert providers ready to tackle your back pain and get you moving in the right direction! We have three convenient locations: North Meridian, Fishers, & Zionsville. If you’re tired of back pain affecting your life, we can help. Get PT – and get better – with Body One!