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Forsch Komplementmed. 2013;20(3):180-8. doi: 10.1159/000346291. Epub 2013 Jun 20.

Professional kinesiology practice for chronic low back pain: single-blind, randomised controlled pilot study.

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  • 1Complementary and Integrative Medicine Research, Primary Medical Care, University of Southampton, UK.



Chronic low back pain is a highly prevalent condition with no definitive treatment. Professional Kinesiology Practice (PKP) is a little known complementary medicine technique using non-standard muscle testing; no previous effectiveness studies have been performed.


This is an exploratory, pragmatic single-blind, 3-arm randomised sham-controlled pilot study with waiting list control (WLC) in private practice UK (2007-2009). 70 participants scoring ‚Č•4 on the Roland and Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) were randomised to real or sham PKP receiving 1 treatment weekly for 5 weeks or a WLC. WLC's were re-randomised to real or sham after 6 weeks. The main outcome was a change in RMDQ from baseline to end of 5 weeks of real or sham PKP.


With an effect size of 0.7 real treatment was significantly different to sham (mean difference RMDQ score = -2.9, p = 0.04, 95% CI -5.8 to -0.1). Compared to WLC, real and sham groups had significant RMDQ improvements (real -9.0, p < 0.01, 95% CI -12.1 to -5.8; effect size 2.1; sham -6.1, p < 0.01, 95% CI -9.1 to -3.1; effect size 1.4). Practitioner empathy (CARE) and patient enablement (PEI) did not predict outcome; holistic health beliefs (CAMBI) did, though. The sham treatment appeared credible; patients did not guess treatment allocation. 3 patients reported minor adverse reactions.


Real treatment was significantly different from sham demonstrating a moderate specific effect of PKP; both were better than WLC indicating a substantial non-specific and contextual treatment effect. A larger definitive study would be appropriate with nested qualitative work to help understand the mechanisms involved in PKP.

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