The objective of this study was to compare spinal manipulation, back school and individual physiotherapy in the treatment of chronic low back pain. 210 patients with chronic, non-specific low back pain, 140/210 women, age 59 +/- 14 years underwent back school and individual physiotherapy scheduled 15 1-hour-sessions for 3 weeks. Back school included: group exercise, education/ ergonomics; individual physiotherapy: exercise, passive mobilization and soft-tissue treatment. Spinal manipulation, given according to Manual Medicine, scheduled 4 to 6 20′-sessions once-a-week. 205 patients completed the study. At discharge, disability score decreased by 3.7 +/- 4.1 for back school, 4.4 +/- 3.7 for individual physiotherapy, 6.7 +/- 3.9 for manipulation; pain score reduction was 0.9 +/- 1.1, 1.1 +/- 1.0, 1.0 +/- 1.1, respectively. At 12 months, disability score reduction was 4.2 +/- 4.8 for back school, 4.0 +/- 5.1 for individual physiotherapy, 5.9 +/- 4.6 for manipulation; pain score reduction was 0.7 +/- 1.2, 0.4 +/- 1.3, and 1.5 +/- 1.1, respectively. Spinal manipulation was associated with higher functional improvement and long-term pain relief than back school or individual physiotherapy, but received more further treatment at follow-ups (P < 0.001); pain recurrences and drug intake were also reduced compared to back school (P < 0.05) or individual physiotherapy (P < 0.001).
Spinal manipulation provided better short and long-term functional improvement, and more pain relief in the follow-up than either back school or individual physiotherapy.
Cecchi F, Molino-Lova R, Chiti M, Pasquini G, Paperini A, Conti AA, Macchi C. Spinal manipulation compared with back school and with individually delivered physiotherapy for the treatment of chronic low back pain: a randomized trial with one-year follow-up. Clin Rehabil. 2010 Jan;24(1):26-36