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Original article

Vol. 140 No. 5152 (2010)

Functional multidisciplinary rehabilitation versus outpatient physiotherapy for non-specific low back pain: randomised controlled trial

  • Y Henchoz
  • Goumoëns de
  • AK So
  • R Paillex
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2010;140:w13133


INTRODUCTION: In recent decades the treatment of non-specific low back pain has turned to active modalities, some of which were based on cognitive-behavioural principles. Non-randomised studies clearly favour functional multidisciplinary rehabilitation over outpatient physiotherapy. However, systematic reviews and meta-analysis provide contradictory evidence regarding the effects on return to work and functional status. The aim of the present randomised study was to compare long-term functional and work status after 3-week functional multidisciplinary rehabilitation or 18 supervised outpatient physiotherapy sessions.

METHODS: 109 patients with non-specific low back pain were randomised to either a 3-week functional multidisciplinary rehabilitation programme, including physical and ergonomic training, psychological pain management, back school and information, or 18 sessions of active outpatient physiotherapy over 9 weeks. Primary outcomes were functional disability (Oswestry) and work status. Secondary outcomes were lifting capacity (Spinal Function Sort and PILE test), lumbar range-of-motion (modified-modified Schöber and fingertip-to-floor tests), trunk muscle endurance (Shirado and Biering-Sörensen tests) and aerobic capacity (modified Bruce test).

RESULTS: Oswestry disability index was improved to a significantly greater extent after functional multidisciplinary rehabilitation compared to outpatient physiotherapy at follow-up of 9 weeks (P = 0.012), 9 months (P = 0.023) and 12 months (P = 0.011). Work status was significantly improved after functional multidisciplinary rehabilitation only (P = 0.012), resulting in a significant difference compared to outpatient physiotherapy at 12 months’ follow-up (P = 0.012). Secondary outcome results were more contrasted.

CONCLUSIONS: Functional multidisciplinary rehabilitation was better than outpatient physiotherapy in improving functional and work status. From an economic point of view, these results should be backed up by a cost-effectiveness study.


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