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Shouldn't focus on alleviating pain be the first treatment?

Q: I'm seeing a Physical Therapist for low back pain that started two weeks ago. The treatment doesn't seem to be focused on getting rid of the pain. Shouldn't that be first?

A: Many studies show that acute back pain will go away in time without specific treatment. Staying active during the healing phase is most important. If the therapist can help you gain a sense of control over your pain then you'll be more likely to keep active.

Most PT programs for back pain are designed for each individual. The choice of treatment is usually up to the therapist. It's always a good idea to ask your PT to explain the program you're following. If you understand why you're doing what you're doing, you'll likely stick with it longer.

Benedict M. Wand, BAppSc, GradDip(ExSpSc), MAppSc, PhD, et al. Early Intervention for the Management of Acute Low Back Pain. A Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial of Biopsychosocial Education, Manual Therapy, and Exercise. In Spine. November 1, 2004. Vol. 29. No. 21. Pp. 2350-2356.