In 2012, over a decade ago, the American Physical Therapy Association reported that almost 40% of people living with low back pain did not get professional help for their condition. Nearly 75% of people did, however, take medication for their low back pain.
Low back pain can be a crippling condition to live with, and it can impact every part of your day, from waking and working, to finding time for family and special events, and everything else in between.
It is understandable, then, that people want to get better. And they want to get better quickly. So, how can you make that happen?
In this article we will look at an emerging tool that is helping patients maximize their back pain recovery in a shorter time, and with better results than just popping a pill. Want to know more? Read on!
The Role Of Physical Therapy For Back Pain Recovery
Physical therapy has been part of the recommended guidelines for low back pain management for several decades now, with exercise being recognized as a key component to recovery.
Unfortunately, for different reasons, not everyone has the ability to engage in this type of therapy. Some may live in rural areas where there just aren't any physical therapists in the area. Others may not have insurance or be able to afford the cost (or co-pay) of a series of physical therapy sessions.
To solve some of these issues, a few innovative companies have found ways that technology can assist.
The Rise Of Digital Physical Therapy
In recent years, digital physical therapy has emerged as a revolutionary tool to enhance rehabilitation and accelerate recovery. Supported by clinical studies and credible references, we will uncover how this innovative approach can transform your journey to a pain-free life.
We are going to look at some of the main benefits of digital physical therapy for low back pain recovery, like how it can help people track their progress to keep them engaged and motivated, and how having a more personalized experience (and treatment plan) can help speed up the recovery process.
Understanding Low Back Pain and the Road to Recovery
Low back pain affects millions of people worldwide, often stopping them from doing the things they love and living the life they want. Research has shown that recovery from low back pain requires a multifaceted approach, no longer just focusing on the spine and back muscles, but also addressing factors like muscle imbalances, posture, and core strength.
For decades, traditional in-person physical therapy has been the go-to option for many, but advances in technology have opened up new avenues for rehabilitation.
The Rise of Digital Physical Therapy
Digital physical therapy, also known as telerehabilitation or online physiotherapy, is an evolving field that uses technology to deliver remote care to patients. This approach has gained popularity due to its convenience, accessibility, and effectiveness.
Thanks to this innovative technology, patients can now receive expert guidance and support from the comfort of their homes, leading to better compliance with their treatment plans and ultimately faster recovery.
How Does Does Digital PT Help Maximize Your Low Back Pain Recovery?
1. Progress Tracking with Digital Physical Therapy
One of the most significant advantages of digital physical therapy is the ability to track progress accurately. Different mobile applications and web-based platforms allow patients to record their exercises, pain levels, and daily activities.
This progress-tracking data provides users with valuable insights into the effectiveness of the treatment plan and it can help them to identify certain trends or areas that need improvement. This information can be used either by the individual, or their healthcare provider.
What Does The Science Say?
In a clinical study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, researchers evaluated the use of a mobile app for tracking low back pain symptoms and exercise adherence.
The results showed that patients who used the app experienced better pain reduction and functional improvement compared to those who used traditional paper-based tracking methods.
By monitoring their progress over time, both patients and physical therapists can make more objective, data-driven decisions to optimize the treatment plan, see what is (or isn't) working, and achieve better results.
Another benefit of progress-tracking is that patients report staying more motivated because they can actually see the changes that are happening with their health, even when those changes are quite small, and they feel encouraged to keep going. Small changes can often go unnoticed but over time they often add up to big results for users.
2. Personalized Treatment Plans
Digital physical therapy offers personalized treatment plans that are tailored to each patient's specific needs. Using tools like telehealth consultations, physical therapists can conduct virtual assessments, identify problem areas, and design individualized exercise routines all from any location and without patients having to go into a physical clinic.
A study published in the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy examined the effectiveness of individualized telehealth physical therapy for low back pain. The findings revealed that 'patients receiving personalized online therapy experienced significant pain reduction and functional improvement, surpassing the outcomes of standard exercises without personalized adjustments'.
This study is just one of the many that support the view that a personalized approach, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, to recovery is vital. Personalized treatment plans not only enhance the recovery process but they also empower patients to take a more active role in managing their low back pain.
3. Access to Expert Guidance Anywhere, Anytime
Digital physical therapy has the ability to break down geographical barriers, providing users with access to expert physical therapists regardless of their location. This is particularly beneficial for people who live in remote areas or those who might have some mobility constraints.
A study published in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare investigated the effectiveness of telehealth physical therapy for low back pain in rural communities. The results showed that patients who received online consultations experienced 'comparable improvements in pain and function' to those attending in-person sessions.
When you consider the fact that some 60 million Americans (almost 20% of the population) live in rural areas, it is easy to see why this type of technology is so important!
And its not just people in rural areas that benefit from this flexibility. Digital physical therapy allows all patients to schedule appointments at their convenience, and on their own schedule often reducing the risk of missed sessions and making sure patients stick with their recovery plan.
4. Enhanced Patient Education and Empowerment
When it comes to a speedy recovery, research shows that education is key! Education is a vital component of low back pain recovery, as it helps patients understand more about their condition, adopt healthy habits, and make informed decisions about their treatment.
Digital physical therapy platforms often include educational resources, such as exercise videos, lifestyle tips, stress management help, and ergonomic guidance. Additionally, therapists can often engage in real-time discussions with patients, answering their questions and addressing concerns as they come up.
A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research assessed the impact of a web-based patient education platform for low back pain. The study found that patients using the platform reported better self-efficacy and adherence to their treatment plans. Essentially, empowering patients through education contributes to greater compliance and better long-term outcomes.
Maximizing your low back pain recovery requires a comprehensive approach, and digital physical therapy is emerging as a game-changer in this area.
Having the ability to track your progress, personalize your treatment plan, easily access expert guidance, and get additional education about your condition make it an amazing tool for back pain relief and physical rehabilitation.
As technology continues to advance, digital physical therapy is poised to revolutionize how we manage low back pain, offering hope and relief to millions of people around the world.