Study Says Physical Therapy as Effective as Lumbar Surgery

Note: Luckily, Central Coast IndustrialCare has a great Physical Therapy Facility headed by Ed DonahueM.S.P.T.

illustration highlighting the lumbar region of the spineBy 04/08/2015 17:25:00

Sacramento, CA ( – Physical therapy may work as well as surgery for easing symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis, a common cause of nerve damage and lower back pain among older people, according to a new study summarized by Reuters Health. Lumbar spinal stenosis, a compression of open spaces in the lower spinal column, can lead to pinched nerves, tingling, weakness and numbness in the back and the lower extremities. The condition becomes more common with age, and an estimated 2.4 million Americans may have it by 2021, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

“Surgery is a riskier procedure, with about a 15 percent complication rate, and half of those are life-threatening,” said Dr. Anthony Delitto, chair of physical therapy at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. “It isn’t a life-risking procedure to do physical therapy.” Delitto and colleagues set out to see if they could show that physical therapy, long known to be safer than surgery, could work as well as at easing symptoms. Between 2000 and 2005, they asked 481 patients who consented to surgery if they would be willing to join a study where they would be randomly chosen to proceed with the operation or receive physical therapy. Most declined, to avoid being assigned to the non surgical group, but 169 patients agreed to participate in the experiment. Ultimately, 87 patients had surgery and 82 were assigned physical therapy.

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