My wife is going to a special clinic to get help for her low back pain. She's been going for six months now. I can't really see that it's helping. How can we tell if the treatment is really working or not?
There are many ways to measure the results of treatment for conditions like low back pain. Patient satisfaction is one of the most important. Is the patient satisfied with the outcome of treatment? If not, then it may be time to reevaluate the goals and program approach.

Other measures of change or improvement may include pain severity, frequency, and duration. In other words, has the pain level changed? Does the pain come as often or more often? Does it go away sooner or last longer than before treatment?

Symptoms other than pain should be evaluated, too. Did the patient have numbness or tingling in the legs before treatment? Is it better, same, or worse after treatment? The same question can be asked about weakness in the legs, trouble sleeping at night, or bowel and bladder function.

Function and disability are two other items that can be looked at to measure success or progress in treatment. Patients compare what kinds of activities they could or couldn't do before treatment with their current abilities. Have they been able to get back to work? Do more at home and at work? Engage in sexual activity? Enjoy leisure activities that were impossible before treatment?

Sometimes the fact that the patient sees the doctor less often, takes fewer pain medications, or feels less jittery or restless and tense are ways to measure results of treatment.