Effectiveness of Four Conservative Treatments for Subacute Low Back Pain: A Randomized Clinical Trial

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Abstract

Study Design.

A randomized, assessor-blinded clinical trial was conducted.

Objective.

To investigate the relative effectiveness of three manual treatments and back school for patients with subacute low back pain.

Summary of Background Data.

Literature comparing the relative effectiveness of specific therapies for low back pain is limited.

Methods.

Among the 5925 inquiries, 206 patients met the specific admission criteria, and 200 patients randomly received one of four treatments for 3 weeks: back school, joint manipulation, myofascial therapy, and combined joint manipulation and myofascial therapy. These patients received assessments at baseline, after 3 weeks of therapy, and 6 months after the completion of therapy. The primary outcomes were evaluated using visual analog pain scales and Roland–Morris activity scales.

Results.

All four groups showed significant improvement in pain and activity scores after 3 weeks of care, but did not show further significant improvement at the 6-month follow-up assessment. No statistically significant between-group differences were found either at the 3-week or 6-month reassessments.

Conclusions.

For subacute low back pain, combined joint manipulation and myofascial therapy was as effective as joint manipulation or myofascial therapy alone. Additionally, back school was as effective as three manual treatments.

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