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Phys Ther. 2010 Dec;90(12):1717-29. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20090260. Epub 2010 Sep 23.

A pilot study examining the effectiveness of physical therapy as an adjunct to selective nerve root block in the treatment of lumbar radicular pain from disk herniation: a randomized controlled trial.

Author information

1
Department of Physical Therapy, University of Utah, 520 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA. a.thackeray@utah.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Therapeutic selective nerve root blocks (SNRBs) are a common intervention for patients with sciatica. Patients often are referred to physical therapy after SNRBs, although the effectiveness of this intervention sequence has not been investigated.

OBJECTIVE:

This study was a preliminary investigation of the effectiveness of SNRBs, with or without subsequent physical therapy, in people with low back pain and sciatica.

DESIGN:

This investigation was a pilot randomized controlled clinical trial.

SETTING:

The settings were spine specialty and physical therapy clinics.

PARTICIPANTS:

Forty-four participants (64% men; mean age=38.5 years, SD=11.6 years) with low back pain, with clinical and imaging findings consistent with lumbar disk herniation, and scheduled to receive SNRBs participated in the study. They were randomly assigned to receive either 4 weeks of physical therapy (SNRB+PT group) or no physical therapy (SNRB alone [SNRB group]) after the injections.

INTERVENTION:

All participants received at least 1 SNRB; 28 participants (64%) received multiple injections. Participants in the SNRB+PT group attended an average of 6.0 physical therapy sessions over an average of 23.9 days.

MEASUREMENTS:

Outcomes were assessed at baseline, 8 weeks, and 6 months with the Low Back Pain Disability Questionnaire, a numeric pain rating scale, and the Global Rating of Change.

RESULTS:

Significant reductions in pain and disability occurred over time in both groups, with no differences between groups at either follow-up for any outcome. Nine participants (5 in the SNRB group and 4 in the SNRB+PT group) underwent surgery during the follow-up period.

LIMITATIONS:

The limitations of this study were a relatively short-term follow-up period and a small sample size.

CONCLUSIONS:

A physical therapy intervention after SNRBs did not result in additional reductions in pain and disability or perceived improvements in participants with low back pain and sciatica.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00934284.

PMID:
20864600
DOI:
10.2522/ptj.20090260
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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