Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Schawnn Decker


Electric Stimulation Therapy; Low Back Pain -- rehabilitation; Low Back Pain -- therapy; Pain Management; Case Reports


Background and Purpose: Low back pain (LBP) is a common complaint in the U.S., and has many possible causes. Multiple physical therapy interventions, including electrotherapy, traction, and lumbar stabilization exercises such as bridging and planking variations, have been shown to be very effective in reducing LBP. The purpose of this case study is to examine the effects of lumbar stabilization exercise and electrotherapy on LBP.

Case Description: The patient was a 43 year-old male, who had been experiencing LBP for the past year. He reported falling off of a truck and landing with his hand tucked into the small of his back. The patient was very limited in activities of daily living, and was reliant on pain medication to function day-to-day. Initial physical therapy examination showed significant limitations in trunk and hip strength and range of motion (ROM). During the first few visits, the patient was unable to perform strengthening or ROM exercises effectively due to extreme levels of pain. Following application of H-wave, an electrotherapeutic modality, the patient was able to actively participate in therapy sessions, which included lumbar stabilization exercises. By the end of the patient's therapy sessions, he demonstrated normal strength in the majority of hip/trunk muscles, as well as full ROM in all formerly tested motions.

Discussion: It is likely that the patient's recovery was not due to H-wave application alone, but was multifactorial in nature. This case study has demonstrated that regardless of electrotherapy's impact on actual patient recovery, it is an effective means of reducing pain to help lead to better participation in therapeutic exercise.