My mother fell and hurt her back last week. We're trying to convince her to see her physical therapist sooner than later. She insists that if it isn't better in a month, then she'll go. Is there any proof that early treatment is better than the wait-and-see approach?
Studies are just beginning to trickle in with evidence to this effect. While it's true that most people with back pain improve and recover on their own in one to two weeks, there are some who don't get better. In these cases, earlier treatment has been shown to reduce pain and disability with fewer long-term problems.

What we don't know is how to predict who is going to need early intervention. Researchers are trying to find out what factors make a difference in the final result. Some factors under investigation include patient age, type of treatment, presence of depression, and job satisfaction.

In a recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, patients with symptoms lasting more than six months were less likely to improve with treatment. Not only that, but it took more treatments to get the same amount of pain relief and improved function compared to patients who had symptoms less than one month.

If your mother is an older adult a visit to her primary care physician may be a good idea. A medical exam for any serious causes of dizziness and/or falling is important. If there's nothing wrong, then a short course of physical therapy can be very valuable in preventing a chronic problem and possibly preventing future injury.