Some low back pain sufferers can be treated by learning to manage their pain without going through expensive treatments and diagnostics.
Julie Fritz, associate dean for research in the College of Health at the University of Utah, said, “People who feel that they’re being treated and cared for will improve a bit more rapidly regardless of what’s actually being provided to them.”
She added in an interview with NPR, “We get into trouble and we do real potential harm to patients when we accelerate them down a pathway too rapidly and that can end in expensive, invasive procedures that patients really don’t want when they start seeking care.”
Fritz said a small percentage of people have a serious problem causing their lower back pain, things like a tumor, or bone infection. Patients with sudden low back pain may be experiencing something more severe and those signs and symptoms would cause doctors to enlist help from specialists and order imaging tests to rule out any major complications.
She adds each patient is different and there is no one-stop solution to the diagnosis and treatment of lower back pain. More research is needed to allow doctors to make a determination of which patients will benefit from physical therapy and which just need to learn proper techniques for managing their pain.
Dr. Fritz says allowing patients to feel more optimistic about their relief from pain is something physicians should not try to limit, and we should take advantage of it whenever we can.
The findings of the study were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.