AIIMS docs curing chronic back pain cases with physiotherapy

Last Updated: Nov 15, 2009, 00:00 AM IST

New Delhi: Doctors at the AIIMS have managed
to cure critical cases of chronic back pain where surgery was
claimed to be the only treatment, by just using physiotherapy.

"With help from physiotherapy, we have been able to avoid
surgery for patients with lower back pain and sciatica who
were advised surgery," Dr P Sarat Chandra, associate
professor, neurosurgery, AIIMS said.

"After giving them closely supervised physiotherapy, only
three of the 45 patients involved in a study went in for
surgery. The condition of the rest of them improved and they
had near complete relief from pain," he said.

Lower back pain is one of the most common complains and
disabling spinal problem in 70 to 80 percent of the adults.

The commonest cause of low back pain is wear and tear in the
lower vertebrae.

The pain can spread to the buttocks, thigh, and may
radiate into the foot and toe. The sciatic nerve is the most
commonly affected nerve, causing symptoms of sciatica. This
happens due to general wear and tear, due to jobs that require
constant sitting and especially those which require lifting.

"The usual mode of treatment is medication, physiotherapy
and finally when there is no relief patient is advised
surgery," an orthopaedic with the AIIMS said.

The study was conducted in 45 patients in the age group
of 18-35 years. All were advised surgery. Some were manual
labourers and others were into desk jobs.

"Majority of them had a wrong notion that medicines cure
the disease and physiotherapy is only an added treatment and
does not affect the disease process. But little did they
realise that most of the medicines are pain-killers," Dr
Chandra said.

He said that physiotherapy works as it strengthens the
back muscles and prevents progression of the disease.

"Ninety five percent of the patients showed improvement.
Surgery should only be considered as a last resort after all
treatments have been tried. It has been found even after
surgery there is not much relief from the pain," he said.

Bureau Report