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December 2019

Spine. 1992 Jan; 17(1): 28-35.

The effectiveness of manual therapy, physiotherapy, and treatment by the general practitioner for nonspecific back and neck complaints. A randomized clinical trial.

Koes BW, Bouter LM, van Mameren H, Essers AH, Verstegen GM, Hofhuizen DM, Houben JP, Knipschild PG.

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Limburg, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

In a randomized trial, the effectiveness of manual therapy, physiotherapy, continued treatment by the general practitioner, and placebo therapy (detuned ultrasound and detuned short-wave diathermy) were compared for patients (n = 256) with nonspecific back and neck complaints lasting for at least 6 weeks. The principle outcome measures were severity of the main complaint, global perceived effect, pain, and functional status. These are presented for 3, 6, and 12 weeks follow-up. Both physiotherapy and manual therapy decreased the severity of complaints more and had a higher global perceived effect compared to continued treatment by the general practitioner. Differences in effectiveness between physiotherapy and manual therapy could not be shown. A substantial part of the effect of manual therapy and physiotherapy appeared to be due to nonspecific (placebo) effects.


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