Physiotherapy management of low back pain in Thailand: a study of practice

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Background and PurposeLow back pain (LBP) is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders in both developed and developing countries. Whilst there have been a number of studies investigating the current physiotherapy management of LBP in the former, little is known about such management in developing countries. The objectives of the present study were to investigate the physiotherapy management of LBP in Thailand and to compare the results with those of developed countries where applicable.MethodA cross-sectional survey was undertaken to collect information on physiotherapists, LBP patients and treatment interventions used, using a Thai version of an available (English) questionnaire. Subsequent to a pilot study with 32 Thai therapists, minor revisions were made and the final questionnaires were mailed to all 776 physiotherapists currently working throughout Thailand.ResultsResponses were received from 559 therapists (a 77.2% response rate), and 502 of these were currently involved in LBP management. Results indicated that LBP patients made up, on average, 37.5% of their patient caseloads. Electrophysical modalities, especially hot packs (64%)), ultrasound (61%) and mechanical traction (61%), were reported to be the most commonly used treatments, particularly by hospital-based therapists, whereas those working in university-based hospitals and private clinics were more likely to use manual therapy.ConclusionsThis study provides descriptive data from the therapists' perspective about LBP management and shows that the treatments most commonly used are different from those treatments commonly used in developed countries. The potential reasons for this are explored in this paper and recommendations are made for further research.

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