Debate continues to surround the question of which method of treatment for low back pain is the most effective. Without effective intervention, many acute episodes of low back pain become chronic problems. Because the prevalence of this condition and the cost of care are so great, there is a need for documenting functional outcomes to justify physical therapy services. This study analyzed the effectiveness of an intensive back program (IBP) in comparison to a conservative program in the treatment of low back pain at an outpatient physical therapy clinic. Twenty-two patients participated in the IBP and eighteen in the non-IBP. A 2x3 analysis of variance with repeated measures indicated that the IBP subjects had significantly greater improvement (P < .05) than the non-IBP subjects in regard to functional ability status. Chi square tests revealed a significant association between group (IBP vs. non-IBP) and report of severity of low back pain at discharge, as well as between group and report of frequency of low back pain three months after discharge. The results of this study suggest that the IBP may be more effective than more conservative physical therapy in the treatment of low back pain.
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