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Clin Rehabil. 2010 Jan;24(1):26-36. doi: 10.1177/0269215509342328.

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.

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Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi, Scientific Institute, Florence, Italy.



To compare spinal manipulation, back school and individual physiotherapy in the treatment of chronic low back pain.


Randomized trial, 12-month follow-up.


Outpatient rehabilitation department.


210 patients with chronic, non-specific low back pain, 140/210 women, age 59 +/- 14 years.


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.


Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (scoring 0-24) and Pain Rating Scale (scoring 0-6) were assessed at baseline, discharge 3, 6, and 12 months.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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