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Man Ther. 2005 Feb;10(1):21-7.

Physiotherapy and osteoporosis: practice behaviors and clinicians' perceptions--a survey.

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Osteoporosis Program, Children's & Women's Health Centre of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Physiotherapists typically use a variety of modes to treat their clients, including manual therapy. The literature cautions against the use of manual therapy in individuals with osteoporosis, (Musculoskeletal Manipulation: Evaluation of the Scientific Evidence, Charles C Thomas Publisher, Springfield, IL; Common Vertebral Joint Problems, 2nd Edition, Churchill Livingstone, New York; Maitland's Vertebral Manipulation, 6th Edition, Butterworth-Heinemann, Boston; Br. J. Sports Med. 37 (2003) 195-196) yet clinical experience (Br. J. Sports Med. 37 (2003) 195-196) and published cases (J. Manip. Physiol. Ther. 15(7) (1992) 450-454) suggest that these techniques are still being used by at least some clinicians. The purpose of this study was to measure the most common treatment modes used by a random sample of physiotherapists practicing in the province of British Columbia (BC) in the treatment of individuals with osteoporosis. To assess whether physiotherapists in BC have concerns about the use of manual therapy in individuals with osteoporosis, particularly whether physiotherapists have concerns about fracture as a complication of treatment. This cross-sectional study of 171 physiotherapists in BC used a questionnaire developed by the physiotherapist in the Osteoporosis Program at the BC Women's Health Centre (a part of the Children's & Women's Health Centre of BC). The response rate (67/171) was 39%. Ninety-seven per cent of respondents reported using strength exercises and postural reeducation, while 45% reported using manual therapy in this population. Ninety-one per cent of respondents reported having concerns about the use of manual therapy. Vertebral fracture and rib fracture were the most commonly reported concerns. These findings suggest that most physiotherapists practicing in BC, Canada use evidence-based methods (i.e. strength training) when treating individuals with osteoporosis, a large number use manual therapy, and most have concerns about its use. Physiotherapists are most concerned about fractures, in particular vertebral fracture, but injury to other musculoskeletal tissues is also of concern. Studies of safety and effectiveness of manual therapy in this population are needed to guide clinical practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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