Want to Fix Your Back Pain?

Get to Know Your Physical Therapist

Woman speaking with her physical therapistMany factors influence the success of rehabilitation in people with chronic low back pain. One factor that is not commonly explored is the relationship that patients have with their physical therapists. How might this “therapeutic alliance” influence your recovery process and help you overcome back pain?

Researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia explored this question in a recent study, “The therapeutic alliance between clinicians and patients predicts outcome in chronic low back pain.” The study was published online in November 2012, and it appears in the journal Physical Therapy.

How the Study Was Conducted
The researchers looked at data on 182 patients with chronic lower back pain. The patients were part of a trial that examined the effects of exercise and spinal therapies as treatments for low back pain.

The participants were also asked to rate their alliance with their physical therapist. The researchers used statistical analyses to determine if the relationship between patients and their therapists affected patients’ perceptions about the effectiveness of their treatmen,t and their levels of pain and disability.

What the Researchers Found
The study results showed that the therapeutic alliance between patients and physical therapists did have a positive effect on patients’ perceived treatment success. The researchers argued that a positive relationship between patients and their therapists was helpful in improving patients’ lower back pain following treatment.

What This Study Means for You
Though the study has some limitations (the authors state that more research is needed to better understand the causes of the results), the findings highlight a well-known aspect of doctor-patient relationships—a positive relationship with your medical provider can be beneficial to your health. A comfortable environment in which you feel free to ask questions and express concerns can help you with your recovery from lower back pain rehabilitation.

Updated on: 02/29/16
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