By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN
Physical therapists aren’t the only ones touting the benefits of non-surgical and alternative therapies for back pain. An article in the May 2009 issue of Consumer Reports Magazine reports that 55% of the 14,000 back pain sufferers interviewed were highly satisfied with physical therapy as a treatment for back pain. Ranking lowest on the satisfaction scale for back pain treatment was the care these patients received from primary care physicians (34%).
This data may be a revealing glimpse into patient perceptions of pharmaceutical care for pain (most often dished out by primary care doctors) versus a more hands-on approach utilized by physical therapists, rehabilitation therapists, acupuncturists and other therapeutic practitioners. Since nearly 80 percent of American adults report suffering from some level of back pain at some point, this is encouraging data that will most likely drive more back pain sufferers to physical therapists. It’s no wonder that U.S. News & World Report recently ranked a career in physical therapy as number one, of “5 jobs that may be your best shot at finding work.”
Physical therapists and traveling physical therapists have seen the debilitating effects of chronic pain in their patients. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has expressed their optimism about the Consumer Reports data, particularly in regards to back pain patients looking at conservative treatment approaches first. Orthopedic surgery and narcotics are of course viable solutions for many patients, however, seeing a physical therapist first may be a wiser approach for patients seeking more conservative treatment.
Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.