A prospective randomized three-week trial of spinal manipulation, transcutaneous muscle stimulation, massage and corset in the treatment of subacute low back pain

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1994 Nov 15;19(22):2571-7. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199411001-00013.


Study design: A randomized prospective trial of manipulation, massage, corset and transcutaneous muscle stimulation (TMS) was conducted in patients with subacute low back pain.

Objectives: The authors determined the relative efficacy of chiropractic treatment to massage, corset, and TMS.

Summary of background data: Although all of these treatments are used for subacute low back pain treatment, there have been few comparative trials using objective outcome criteria. Patients were enrolled for a period of 3 weeks. They were evaluated once a week by questionnaires, visual analog scale, range of motion, maximum voluntary extension effort, straight leg raising and Biering-Sorensen fatigue test. The dropout rate was highest in the muscle stimulation and corset groups and lowest in the manipulation group. Rates of full compliance did not differ significantly across treatments. A measure of patient confidence was greatest in the manipulation group.

Results: After 3 weeks, the manipulation group scored the greatest improvements in flexion and pain while the massage group had the best extension effort and fatigue time, and the muscle stimulation group the best extension.

Conclusion: None of the changes in physical outcome measures (range of motion, fatigue, strength or pain) were significantly different between any of the groups.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chiropractic*
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Orthotic Devices*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Compliance
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation*