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Scand J Prim Health Care. 1992 Sep; 10(3): 170-8.

A controlled, multicentre trial of manual therapy in low-back pain. Initial status, sick-leave and pain score during follow-up.

Blomberg S, Svärdsudd K, Mildenberger F.

Department of Family Medicine, Uppsala University, Sweden.

101 outpatients with acute or subacute low-back pain were randomly allocated to one of two treatment groups. One group was given standardized conventional but optimal activating treatment by primary health care teams. The other group received manual treatment such as manipulation, specific mobilization, muscle stretching, auto-traction, and cortisone injections. The two groups were similar in most of the pretrial variables, including age, sex, previous low-back pain problems, sick-leave, previous treatment, findings at the physical examination, quality-of-life score, disability rating, and pain score. After one month in the study, the proportion of patients on sick-leave was six times larger in the conventionally treated group than in the group receiving the specific manual treatment. The difference diminished over time but was still significant after eight months. Two slightly different pain scores ("pain at the moment" and "pain during the last weeks"), initially similar in the two groups, diminished in both groups but were significantly lower in the manual treatment group during the study. The group receiving specific manual treatment thus had a significantly better outcome than the group receiving conventional treatment as far as sick-leave and pain score are concerned.

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