Original Research

Private practitioners`use of exercise therapy in lower back pain

Z. Strydom, M. Faure, M. M. Bester
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 61, No 2 | a171 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v61i2.171 | © 2005 Z. Strydom, M. Faure, M. M. Bester | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 January 2005 | Published: 09 January 2005

About the author(s)

Z. Strydom, Department of Physiotherapy, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
M. Faure, Department of Physiotherapy, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
M. M. Bester, Department of Physiotherapy, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

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Introduction: Lower back pain (LBP) is a common problem treated by physiotherapists.  Recent research confirms the need for a more dynamic approach, to the management of this condition and includes progressive activity and exercise.  The current use of exercise therapy for people with LBP and the implementation of evidence based practice in this field in South Africa, is unknown.  As 80% of physiotherapists in South Africa offer services in private sector, the purpose of the study was to determine the use of this modality by physiotherapists.  The specific aims were to determine how many physiotherapists utilise exercise therapy, how much therapy time is spent on it and how the modality is applied.  This information can determine whether there is a need for continuing professional development in this area.

Method: A stratified random sample of 489 South African physiotherapists was selected to take part in a survey by means of a questionnaire.  Data was analysed descriptively and relationships between categories were analysed using Chi-square tests (p<5).

Results: A response rate of 85% was reached.  All but one physiotherapist used exercise therapy however, only 16% of the physiotherapists spent more than half of the course of treatment on exercise therapy.  Most respondents (96%) specified dosages, 95% progressed exercises, but only 46% alwaysre-assess exercises at follow-up visits.  Home
exercises are often prescribed, but group exercises are seldom used.

Conclusion: South African physiotherapists in private practice use exercise therapy as a treatment modality for  people with LBP.  Inconsistencies concerning the implementation and time spent on exercises, suggests the need for continual professional development in this area


lower back pain; exercise therapy


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