Date of Award

Spring 5-23-2015

Document Type

Doctor of Nursing Practice Final Manuscript

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice



First Advisor

Dr. Mary Jo Clark, PhD, RN, Seminar Faculty

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan Bonnell, PhD, APRN, Faculty Chairperson


Background: Low back pain is a condition affecting many people worldwide. The age of onset is variable, affecting all patient populations from childhood throughout the lifespan. Aims/Purpose: The efficacy of physical therapy for adolescent patients with back pain seen in a pediatric orthopedic clinic was evaluated through comparison of pre and post-intervention pain scores. Patient compliance with physical therapy was monitored and evaluated against outcomes.

Design: A six-month retrospective chart review of adolescent patients with a diagnosis of low back pain. Patients with a diagnosis of low back pain were referred for physical therapy and provided with a home exercise program to reduce pain.

Setting: An orthopedic clinic specializing in low back pain affiliated with a large children’s hospital.

Participants: A total of 50 patients with a diagnosis of low back strain were included.

Results: Eighteen patients were referred to a clinic-affiliated physical therapy provider, 20 were referred to an outside vendor. Twelve patients were not referred to physical therapy and opted for a home exercise program as the sole intervention for pain relief. At the conclusion of the project, no patients returned to clinic for unresolved pain.

Conclusion: The findings suggest the home exercise program patients had the same reduction of pain as the patients who attended physical therapy. Initial use of a home exercise program could be beneficial for many adolescents with low back pain. Those with unresolved pain could then be referred for physical therapy, thus making better use of physical therapy services and decreasing both family and health care system costs.