Effects of dynamic stabilization exercises and muscle energy technique on selected biopsychosocial outcomes for patients with chronic non-specific low back pain: a double-blind randomized controlled trial.

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Low back pain is the most prevalent musculoskeletal condition, and causes activity limitations which result in reduced work productivity and high medical expenditure. The management of this condition has been challenging to both clinicians and researchers. While the use of Muscle Energy Technique (MET) as a potentially effective treatment strategy seems promising, studies examining MET combined with exercise therapy are scarce and studies with strong methodology are lacking. Therefore, this study aims to determine the effects of a combination of Dynamic Stabilization Exercises (DSE) and MET on selected biopsychosocial outcomes compared to DSE alone or conventional physiotherapy in the management of chronic non-specific low back pain (NSLBP).A total of 125 (80 male and 45 female) patients with chronic NSLBP were involved in this study, they were recruited from Rasheed Shekoni Teaching hospital and Federal Medical centre Birnin-Kudu, Jigawa State, Nigeria. A random number generator method was used to allocate patients to either DSE + MET (n=41), DSE alone (n=39) or conventional physiotherapy (n=45). Interventions were administered twice a week over 12 weeks. Outcome measures included pain intensity, lumbar (flexion and extension) range of motion, functional-disability, self-perceived health status, limitations in activities and participation restrictions. These were assessed at baseline, mid-intervention at six weeks, post-intervention at 12 weeks and long term follow-up at 24 weeks. Data was analyzed using repeated-measures ANOVA to determine significance difference within groups and between groups.All intervention groups showed within-groups changes of the study outcomes over time (p<0.001). However, between-group comparisons showed greater improvements in pain intensity (F=7.91, p<0.001), lumbar ROM (flexion F=1.51, p<0.001; extension F=3.25, p<0.001), activity limitations/participation restrictions (F=3.7, p<0.001) and health status (F=10.9, p<0.001) for the intervention in which MET and DSE were combined. The MET plus DSE interventions were superior to DSE and convention physiotherapy for all outcome measures, except for functional disability (F=0.53, p=0.590).The data from this study showed MET combined with DSE had greater therapeutic benefits compared to DSE or conventional physiotherapy on selected biopsychosocial outcomes in patients with chronic NSLBP. The findings from the study show that the combination of MET with DSE is safe and has beneficial effects in the management of patients with chronic NSLBP.The study protocol has been registered with www.ClinicalTrial.gov with the registration number NCT3449810.

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Authors: Usman Abba Ahmed, Sonill Sooknunan Maharaj, Jessica Van Oosterwijck