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J Man Manip Ther. 2008;16(4):198-203.

Spinal manipulative therapy for acute low back pain: a clinical perspective.


Low back pain (LBP) is an extremely common cause of pain and disability. While many treatments for acute LBP exist, one of the most widely used, but also most controversial, is spinal manipulative therapy (SMT). This therapy includes both high-velocity manipulative techniques and low-velocity mobilization techniques. The literature regarding the use of SMT is often conflicting, which explains the difference in recommendations regarding SMT in international LBP guidelines. The lack of a clear tissue diagnosis in the majority of patients with LBP combined with the unknown mechanism of action of SMT adds to the difficulty for clinicians in providing SMT in a logical and effective manner. Despite these limitations, the existing literature does provide some assistance to clinicians on when to provide SMT and how to provide it in an optimal way. This review aims to summarize the key research literature investigating SMT in LBP in order to help clinicians make informed decisions about the use of SMT for their patients with acute LBP.


Clinical Decision Making; Clinical Prediction Rules; Screening; Spinal Manipulation

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