November 5, 2020: Anyone who’s ever had back pain knows how deeply it can upset the rhythm and quality of life. When back pain radiates to the leg — which is called sciatica — the misery grows.
Almost a third of people with back pain experience sciatica, which can resolve on its own before too long. But not always. That’s where a trip to the doctor and discussions of relief options like surgery typically come in.
Physical therapist Julie Fritz and her colleagues set out to discover if the typical advice for people with back pain was needlessly prolonging pain. Would people with sciatica who received physical therapy early on have less pain and problems than those who took a wait-and-see approach.
The results were significant. They were even spotlighted in the esteemed journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
In this episode, Julie shares the study’s details and implications. She also emphasizes the importance advocating for oneself until the new findings become standard care.
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Julie Fritz, PT, PhD, is a distinguished professor in the Department of Physical Therapy & Athletic Training and associate dean for research in the College of Health at the University of Utah. She is a physical therapist whose career has focused on conducting research related to the best treatment strategies for individuals with back pain and other orthopedic conditions. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research, and several other agencies.