Objective: To determine whether adding hip treatment to usual care for low back pain (LBP) improved disability and pain in individuals with LBP and a concurrent hip impairment.
Design: Randomized controlled trial.
Methods: Seventy-six participants (age, 18 years or older; Oswestry Disability Index, 20% or greater; numeric pain-rating scale, 2 or more points) with LBP and a concurrent hip impairment were randomly assigned to a group that received treatment to the lumbar spine only (LBO group) (n = 39) or to one that received both lumbar spine and hip treatments (LBH group) (n = 37). The individual treating clinicians decided which specific low back treatments to administer to the LBO group. Treatments aimed at the hip (LBH group) included manual therapy, exercise, and education, selected by the therapist from a predetermined set of treatments. Primary outcomes were disability and pain, measured by the Oswestry Disability Index and the numeric pain-rating scale, respectively, at baseline, 2 weeks, discharge, 6 months, and 12 months. The secondary outcomes were fear-avoidance beliefs (work and physical activity subscales of the Fear-Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire), global rating of change, the Patient Acceptable Symptom State, and physical activity level. We used mixed-model 2-by-3 analyses of variance to examine group-by-time interaction effects (intention-to-treat analysis).
Results: Data were available for 68 patients at discharge (LBH group, n = 33; LBO group, n = 35) and 48 at 12 months (n = 24 for both groups). There were no between-group differences in disability at discharge (-5.0; 95% confidence interval [CI]: -10.9, 0.89; P = .09), 12 months (-1.0; 95% CI: -4.44, 2.35; P = .54), and all other time points. There were no between-group differences in pain at discharge (-0.2; 95% CI: -1.03, 0.53; P = .53), 12 months (0.1; 95% CI: -0.53, 0.72; P = .76), and all other time points. There were no between-group differences in secondary outcomes, except for higher Fear-Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire (work subscale) scores in the LBH group at 2 weeks (-3.35; 95% CI: -6.58, -0.11; P = .04) and discharge (-3.45; 95% CI: - 6.30, -0.61; P = .02).
Conclusion: Adding treatments aimed at the hip to usual low back physical therapy did not provide additional short- or long-term benefits in reducing disability and pain in individuals with LBP and a concurrent hip impairment. Clinicians may not need to include hip treatments to achieve reductions in low back disability and pain in individuals with LBP and a concurrent hip impairment. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2021;51(12):581-601. Epub 16 Nov 2021. 2021. doi:10.2519/jospt.2021.10593.
Keywords: hip; low back; manual therapy; physical therapy; randomized controlled trial.