A clinical prediction rule for classifying patients with low back pain who demonstrate short-term improvement with spinal manipulation

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2002 Dec 15;27(24):2835-43. doi: 10.1097/00007632-200212150-00021.


Study design: A prospective, cohort study of patients with nonradicular low back pain referred to physical therapy.

Objective: Develop a clinical prediction rule for identifying patients with low back pain who improve with spinal manipulation.

Summary of background data: Development of clinical prediction rules for classifying patients with low back pain who are likely to respond to a particular intervention, such as manipulation, would improve clinical decision-making and research.

Methods: Patients with nonradicular low back pain underwent a standardized examination and then underwent a standardized spinal manipulation treatment program. Success with treatment was determined using percent change in disability scores over three sessions and served as the reference standard for determining the accuracy of examination variables. Examination variables were first analyzed for univariate accuracy in predicting success and then combined into a multivariate clinical prediction rule.

Results: Seventy-one patients participated. Thirty-two had success with the manipulation intervention. A clinical prediction rule with five variables (symptom duration, fear-avoidance beliefs, lumbar hypomobility, hip internal rotation range of motion, and no symptoms distal to the knee) was identified. The presence of four of five of these variables (positive likelihood ratio = 24.38) increased the probability of success with manipulation from 45% to 95%.

Conclusion: It appears that patients with low back pain likely to respond to manipulation can be accurately identified before treatment.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / classification
  • Low Back Pain / pathology
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Spinal / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome