Lumbar manipulation and exercise for the treatment of acute low back pain in adolescents: a randomized controlled trial

Low back pain (LBP) is a common condition in adolescents. Although much has been written about the efficacy of lumbar manipulation for adults with LBP, little is known about its effectiveness in adolescents. This study had two primary aims: (1) to assess the efficacy of adding lumbar manipulation to an exercise program in adolescents with acute (<90 days) LBP and (2) to report and assess any adverse reactions associated with lumbar manipulation noted in this study. Patients were randomly assigned to receive lumbar manipulation or sham manipulation. All patients performed 4 weeks of physical therapy exercise. Pain, patient-specific functional scale (PSFS), and global rating of change (GROC) scores were measured at evaluation, 1 week, 4 weeks, and 6 months. Relative risk was calculated for adverse reactions noted. We recruited 35 consecutive patients with acute LBP. One patient was excluded after being diagnosed with a spondylolysis, 34 patients remained for analysis. Both groups experienced significant improvement over time in all measures. There were no differences between groups for pain, PSFS, or GROC scores. No increased risk of adverse reaction from lumbar manipulation was noted.