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Physiotherapy Post Lumbar Discectomy: Prospective Feasibility and Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial

Rushton, A and Heneghan, NR and Calvert, M and Heap, A and White, L and Goodwin, PC (2015) Physiotherapy Post Lumbar Discectomy: Prospective Feasibility and Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial. PLOS ONE, 10. ISSN 1932-6203


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Objectives To evaluate: acceptability and feasibility of trial procedures; distribution of scores on the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ, planned primary outcome); and efficient working of trial components. Design and Setting A feasibility and external pilot randomised controlled trial (ISRCTN33808269, assigned 10/12/2012) was conducted across 2 UK secondary care outpatient physiotherapy departments associated with regional spinal surgery centres. Participants Consecutive consenting patients aged >18 years; post primary, single level, lumbar discectomy. Interventions Participants were randomised to either 1:1 physiotherapy outpatient management including patient leaflet, or patient leaflet alone. Main Outcome Measures Blinded assessments were made at 4 weeks post surgery (baseline) and 12 weeks post baseline (proposed primary end point). Secondary outcomes included: Global Perceived Effect, back/leg pain, straight leg raise, return to work/function, quality of life, fear avoidance, range of movement, medication, re-operation. Results At discharge, 110 (44%) eligible patients gave consent to be contacted. 59 (54%) patients were recruited. Loss to follow up was 39% at 12 weeks, with one site contributing 83% losses. Mean (SD) RMDQ was 10.07 (5.58) leaflet and 10.52 (5.94) physiotherapy/leaflet at baseline; and 5.37 (4.91) leaflet and 5.53 (4.49) physiotherapy/leaflet at 12 weeks. 5.1% zero scores at 12 weeks illustrated no floor effect. Sensitivity to change was assessed at 12 weeks with mean (SD) change -4.53 (6.41), 95%CI -7.61 to -1.44 for leaflet; and -6.18 (5.59), 95%CI -9.01 to -3.30 for physiotherapy/leaflet. RMDQ mean difference (95%CI) between change from baseline to twelve weeks was 1.65(-2.46 to 5.75). Mean difference (95%CI) between groups at 12 weeks was -0.16 (-3.36 to 3.04). Participant adherence with treatment was good. No adverse events were reported. Conclusions Both interventions were acceptable, and it is promising that they both demonstrated a trend in reducing disability in this population. A randomised controlled trial, using a different trial design, is needed to ascertain the effectiveness of combining the interventions into a stepped care intervention and comparing to a no intervention arm. Findings will guide design changes for an adequately powered randomised controlled trial, using RMDQ as the primary outcome.

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