Recent Study Compares Conventional Physical Therapy and Intensive Exercises

November 13, 1993

All physical therapists, when treating low back injuries, recommend some form of back exercises or therapy. A recent study published in Spine1 studied two different types of physical therapy modalities.

In a randomized, observer-blind trial, 150 men and women, aged 21 – 64 years, with chronic and sub-chronic low back pain, followed one of three treatment regimes:

Intensive, dynamic back-muscle exercise;

Conventional physiotherapy, including isometric exercises for the trunk and leg muscles; and

Placebo-control treatment involving semi hot packs and light traction.
Eight treatment sessions were given during the course of four weeks, each session lasting one hour. The short-term effect was evaluated at the conclusion of the treatment period and one month later, and the long-term effect at six and twelve months.

The authors evaluated the changes in pain levels and assessment of overall treatment effect, indicated on visual interval scales.

The results were interesting:

Conventional physiotherapy was the superior treatment for the male participants;

Intensive back exercises appears to be most efficient for the female participants;

Patients with moderate or hard physical occupations tended toward a better response with conventional physiotherapy;

Intensive back exercises seemed most effective for those with sedentary/light job functions; and

Patients with chronic/sub-chronic low back pain were successfully treated with physical therapy and intensive dynamic back exercises, but not with placebo-control treatment.

This article raises some interesting issues surrounding post-traumatic patient support, which are important to the provider and attorney team who can best help the patient/client. We believe the provider/attorney connection is natural and best serves the interests of the patient/client when both health care and legal communities work together. If we can assist any of your patients, simply have them give us a call. Consultations are without cost.


1 Rolsted Hansen, M.D., et al., “Intensive, Dynamic Back-Muscle Exercises, Conventional Physiotherapy, or Placebo-Control Treatment of Low-Back Pain,” Spine, May 1993, pp. 98 – 108.