According to a recent article in Medical News Today Alberta physical therapy PhD graduate Jorge Fuentes has found that if a physiotherapist interacts with a patient verbally, through eye contact, body language and listening skills, it is almost as important as the treatment itself.
“The way we are applying treatment today is not the best approach,” Fuentes says. “That might be the reason physical therapy interventions have such a modest effect for patients with chronic conditions. The therapeutic context, in which the interventions are delivered, matters. We have to take these non-specific factors into consideration.”
A study of 117 patients with chronic low back pain split into four groups showed that Fuentes found that patients with enhanced interaction and real electrotherapy reported a three-point reduction in pain intensity on a 10-point scale, along with a two-kilogram increase in their pain thresholds – results he said that are considered clinically significant.
Fuentes says his findings, which he recently presented to strong feedback at the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine Conference, are just the first step in understanding the importance of non-specific factors and optimizing treatment for patients.