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Early physical therapy may improve outcomes of subacute back pain – that is the finding of a Swedish study according to a medical article in the July/August issue of The Clinical Journal of Pain. (Clin J Pain. 2006;22:505-511)

For patients with subacute low back pain, providing early access to physical therapy leads to reduced pain at 6-month follow-up.

At 6 months, median reduction in pain intensity was 3.0 points for patients receiving early access to physical therapy, compared with 1.5 points in the control group.

Secondary outcomes were similar between groups, including disability scores and sick-leave days.

In patients with low back pain, the subacute phase seems to be critical in the transition from acute to long-term pain problems. Effective treatment may help to prevent long-term pain and disability.

This trial finds a reduction in follow-up pain intensity scores among patients with subacute low back pain who receive early access to physical therapy.

My own “study” of my injured clients over the years would indicate that American backs react the same as Swedish backs. Early physical therapy has been extremely beneficial for most clients with low back complaints. The trick has been getting the therapy as quickly as possible – when it has the best chance of doing some good. I applaud the efforts of the primary care physicians in the Tampa Bay area who understand the need for the therapy.

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