Physical Therapy Is Useless In The Treatment of Back Pain

Back pain treatment that utilizes traditional physical therapy is virtually useless in the management of
most back pain. Why? Because most physical therapy treatment for back pain fails to address the underlying cause of the problem. Instead, most physical therapy treatment only addresses the patient’s symptoms and that is not going to get the job done.

Here’s a list of the most useless physical therapy treatment methods for back pain:

1. Ultrasound:
Ultrasound is a thermal modality that utilizes high frequency sound waves to create mechanical vibration in the tissues resulting in the production of heat. The increase in blood flow from the heat theoretically helps promote healing. Ultrasound is also used to break up scar tissue. And the true benefit? Zilch. That’s right, ultrasound has never been shown to have any impact on back pain.

2. Hot Packs:
Used to increase blood flow to the affected tissue. Because of the absence of evidence to support the effectiveness of hot packs, most insurance companies don’t pay for this modality. Should tell you something. As I always say too, its already inflamed and irritated, why heat it up more?

3. Nonspecific Back Exercises:
This one is really frustrating for its potential to cause way more harm. When I see patients being instructed to bring their knees to chest or press up exercises for no other reason than it’s part of the protocol, I absolutely cringe.

4. Electrical Stimulation:
Electrical stimulation is used to control pain and reduce muscle spasm. Problem is the benefit is short lived – as in, only while you’re doing it.

There’s nothing unsafe about any of these treatments. I have actually used electrical stimulation and moist heat (in student clinic) at the end of a patient’s treatment because the patient enjoys it. There’s just zero effect on a person’s ability to function or upon the improvement of the back pain condition.