Does Spinal Manipulative Therapy Reduce Disability From Low Back Pain?

HealthDay News — Spinal manipulative therapy reduces disability from low back pain (LBP) more than functional technique, but not in a clinically meaningful way, according to a study published in The Spine Journal.

Adelaida María Castro-Sánchez, PT, PhD, from the University of Almeria in Spain, and colleagues compared the effective of spinal manipulation or functional technique (3 once-weekly sessions) on pain, disability, kinesiophobia, and quality of life in 62 patients with chronic LBP.

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The researchers found that patients receiving spinal manipulation experienced statistically, although not clinically, significant greater reductions in terms of disability. Over time, both groups showed significant improvement for the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (both groups P < 0.001) and Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability Index (both groups P < 0.001). 

However, for pain intensity (P = 0.488), Tampa Scale of Kinesiophobia (P = 0.552), any domains of the Short Form-36 quality-of-life questionnaire (P ≤ 0.164), isometric resistance of abdominal muscles (P = 0.512), and finger-to-floor distance (P = 0.194), there were no significant treatment-by-time interactions.

“As neither group met the threshold for minimum clinically important difference following treatment, neither treatment resulted in a clinically meaningful benefit,” the authors wrote.


Castro-Sánchez A, Lara-Palomo I, Matarán-Peñarrocha G et al. Short-term effectiveness of spinal manipulative therapy versus functional technique in patients with chronic nonspecific low back pain: a pragmatic randomized controlled trial. Spine J. 2016;16(3):302-312. doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2015.08.057.