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Physiother Theory Pract. 2017 Sep;33(9):695-705. doi: 10.1080/09593985.2017.1345026. Epub 2017 Jul 17.

Physiological effects of physical therapy interventions on lumbar intervertebral discs: A systematic review.

Author information

1
a Department of Exercise Sciences , Brigham Young University , Provo , UT , USA.
2
b Department of Physical Therapy, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions , Provo , UT , USA.
3
c Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Colorado School of Medicine , Aurora , CO , USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND CONTEXT:

The use of physical therapy has been recommended in the treatment of low back pain based on primarily mechanical and neurophysiological effects. Recent studies have measured the physiological effects of physical therapy interventions, including manual therapy and traction, on the intervertebral discs (IVD), and these findings may have implications for the long-term management or even prevention of low back pain.

PURPOSE:

The objective of this systematic review is to investigate the literature regarding possible physiological effects of physical therapy interventions on the intervertebral disc (IVD).

STUDY DESIGN:

Systematic Review.

METHODS:

A literature search of published articles through December 2014 resulted in the retrieval of 8 clinical studies assessing the influence of physical therapy interventions on the physiology of the IVD.

RESULTS:

Three studies, including two using animal models, investigated the effects of 30-minute intermittent traction on disc height. One in vivo animal study and two studies using human subjects assessed changes of disc height associated with static traction. Three studies investigated the effects of lumbar spine manipulation and mobilization on changes in water diffusion within the IVD. All studies confirmed, either directly or indirectly, that their respective intervention influenced disc physiology primarily through water flow.

CONCLUSION:

Physical therapy interventions may have an effect on the physiology of the IVD, primarily through water diffusion and molecular transport, which are important for the health of the IVD.

KEYWORDS:

IVD; lumbar traction; manual therapy

PMID:
28715273
DOI:
10.1080/09593985.2017.1345026
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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