Comparing back pain treatments with ultrasound, laser, and traction therapy.

There have been several studies comparing low back pain treatment between different treatment options. Decompression or traction therapy is a common modality used in the treatment of low back pain disc herniations. Ultrasound therapy has been utilized for many years to decrease pain and discomfort. Low level laser therapy is a treatmentthat has been increasing over the last several years. As the intensity, strength, and power of lasers have increased it is becoming a better treatment option.

The study looked to compare the three types of treatment. People were divided into threegroups of laser, traction, or ultrasound therapy. Treatment wasprovided 15 times over the course of three weeks. An MRI was utilized at the beginning and end of the study to gauge treatment changes and improvement. Pain scales were utilized in addition to the MRI.

All three treatments showed improvement in pain levels and MRI findings. There was not a significant difference between the three groups. This suggests that all three are valuable treatment options for individuals with low back pain. Thestudy does not suggest anything about differences among the three groups or if there utilized in combination.

The research abstract is listed below for additional reading information.

For more information on back pain relief by Massage Therapy or with Graston Techniqe to enhance flexibility and decrease back pain. Decompression therapy

Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics

Volume 31, Issue 3 , Pages191-198, March 20082

Comparison of 3 Physical Therapy Modalities For Acute Pain in Lumbar Disc Herniation Measured by Clinical Evaluation and Magnetic Resonance Imaging

ZelihaUnlu, MD, SalihaTasc─▒, MD, et al.



This study measures and compares the outcome of traction, ultrasound, and low-power laser (LPL) therapies by using magnetic resonance imaging and clinical parameters in patients presenting with acute leg pain and low back pain caused by lumbar disc herniation (LDH).


A total of 60patients were enrolled in this study and randomly assigned into1 of 3 groups equally according to the therapies applied, either with traction, ultrasound, or LPL. Treatment consisted of 15 sessions over a period of 3 weeks. Magnetic resonance imaging examinations were done before and immediately after the treatment. Physical examination of the lumbar spine, severity of pain, functional disability by Roland Disability Questionnaire, and Modified OswestryDisability Questionnaire were assessed at baseline, immediately after, and at 1 and 3 months after treatment.


There were significant reductions in pain and disability scores between baseline and follow-up periods, but there was not a significant difference between the 3 treatment groups at any of the 4 interview times. There were significant reductions of size of the herniated mass on magnetic resonance imaging after treatment, but no differences between groups.


This study showed that traction, ultrasound, and LPL therapies were all effective in the treatment of this group of patients with acute LDH. These results suggest that conservative measures such as traction, laser, and ultrasound treatments might have an important role in the treatment of acute LDH. PubMed