Dr. Barry Fitch of Progressive Physical Therapy

October 8, 2008


Where were you born and raised?  What is your education background?

Barry Fitch:

I was born and raised in Pamplico, SC.  Education as follows:
BA in Biology, Francis Marion University
BS in Physical Therapy, MUSC
MBA, Brenau University
DPT, University of St. Augustine

Why did you decide to become a physical therapist – give a brief summary of your professional career? 

Barry Fitch:

I was always interested in medicine and in helping others achieve and remain in good health. As I explored all the opportunities in the medical field, I was drawn to the physical therapy side of medicine—diagnosing, managing, and treating disorders and injuries of the musculoskeletal system as well as rehabilitating patients after surgery. I started Progressive Physical Therapy in 1986.

What trends have you noticed during your career about the incidence of back pain?  How does back pain affect the American workforce?

Barry Fitch:

Through my many years in this field, I began to notice common patterns and issues concerning neck and back pain among our patients. This observation led to my discovery of a condition I’ve named Chronic Postural Deterioration [CPD].

The incidence of back pain has increased dramatically and whereas it was once associated more with middle-aged laborers, it is now also prevalent in younger, more sedentary workers.  It isn’t just people in physically intensive jobs any longer. I see more and more patients with office jobs come in now than I have previously.


What is the root cause of back pain?

Barry Fitch:

Americans sit more than any other nation in the world.  Sitting at computers, in cars, and in front of the television puts twice as much pressure on our spines as standing.  Your mother told you to sit up straight for a reason, after all. Hunching over hand-held video games and text messaging adds to that pressure.  This also causes poor posture.  As we mold to our sitting positions and round forward, our bodies gradually creep into a posture that not only makes us look older, it creates progressive deterioration of spinal components, and leads to neck and back pain.  This chronic postural deterioration is reaching epidemic proportions among young adults and even teens.
Unfortunately, most conventional therapies for treating chronic postural deterioration don’t work because standard treatments are all designed to treat the symptoms, rather than the cause.  The spine is more dependent on its surrounding musculature for stability than any other joint in the body.  I have developed an approach that works to strengthen the muscles that help support the spine to decrease pain and improve function.

Approximately 80% of all Americans will suffer at least one occurrence of lower back pain in their lifetimes.

How have chiropractors, physical therapists and medical doctors traditionally dealt with back and neck pain?  What are the limitations of these treatments?  How does your treatment differ?

Barry Fitch:

Most traditional treatments by Chiropractors, Therapists, and Medical Doctors provide only temporary relief.  Some are even harmful.  Our approach is different in that we identify if a patient is beginning to develop CPD and intervene to stop its progression by strengthening the musculature to support the spine.


What are the three most important recommendations you would make to someone experiencing back or neck pain?

Barry Fitch:

1. Check your workstation for proper ergonomics.

2. Schedule hourly breaks if you will be at the computer for extensive periods of time.

3. See your doctor about any questions or concerns you have. Now is the time to address issues before they become permanent conditions.

Quick facts about back injuries:

• Back injuries account for 10% of all chronic health conditions and visits to a doctor
• 80% of Americans will suffer at least one occurrence of low back pain in their lifetime
• 67% of adults experience neck pain in their lifetime
• While diagnoses related to lower back pain account for 16-19% of workers compensation claims, they represent as much as 50% of costs
• Estimated annual costs for lower back pain in the U.S. have been as high as $100 billion
• According to the American Society of Orthopedic Surgeons, back injuries are the most costly medical condition in America.