The effectiveness of physiotherapy functional restoration for post-acute low back pain: A systematic review Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: The effectiveness of multidisciplinary treatment for post-acute (>6 weeks) low back pain (LBP) has been established. Physiotherapists have sufficient training to conduct less intensive functional restoration. The effectiveness of physiotherapy functional restoration (PFR) has not been evaluated using current systematic review methodology. OBJECTIVES: To determine the effects of PFR for post-acute LBP. DATA SOURCES: Electronic databases searched include: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, PEDro and Cochrane CENTRAL. TRIAL ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials of physiotherapy treatment for post-acute LBP combining exercise and cognitive-behavioural intervention compared with other intervention, no intervention or placebo. TRIAL APPRAISAL AND SYNTHESIS METHODS: Two authors independently extracted data. Risk of bias was assessed using the PEDro scale and overall quality of the body of evidence was assessed using GRADE (Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation). Treatment effect sizes and 95% confidence intervals were calculated for pain, function and sick leave. RESULTS: Sixteen trials were included. Heterogeneity prevented meta-analysis for most comparisons. Meta-analyses showed moderate to high quality evidence of significant but small effects favouring PFR compared with advice for intermediate term function and intermediate and long term pain. There was however low to moderate quality evidence that PFR was no more effective than a range of other treatment types. Heterogeneous trials frequently contributed to very low quality evidence. CONCLUSIONS: Moderate to high quality evidence was found of small effects favouring PFR compared with advice. Preliminary evidence suggested PFR is not different to other treatment types. Further high quality research is required replicating existing trial protocols.

publication date

  • February 2013