Physical therapy for acute and sub-acute low back pain: A systematic review and expert consensus

Xue-Qiang Wang, Yu-Ling Wang, Jeremy Witchalls, Jia Han, Zhi-Jie Zhang, Phillip Page, Yu-Lian Zhu, Carla Stecco, Jian-Hua Lin, Doa El-Ansary, Quan-Sheng Ma, Qi Qi, Jae-Seop Oh, Wei-Ming Zhang, Adrian Pranata, Li Wan, Kui Li, Ming Ma, Lin-Rong Liao, Yu-Lian ZhuJing-Wei Guo, Pei-Jie Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To review the effectiveness of different physical therapies for acute and sub-acute low back pain supported by evidence, and create clinical recommendations and expert consensus for physiotherapists on clinical prescriptions.

DATA SOURCES: A systematic search was conducted in PubMed and the Cochrane Library for studies published within the previous 15 years.

REVIEW METHODS: Systematic review and meta-analysis, randomized controlled trials assessing patients with acute and sub-acute low back pain were included. Two reviewers independently screened relevant studies using the same inclusion criteria. The Physiotherapy Evidence Database and the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews tool were used to grade the quality assessment of randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews, respectively. The final recommendation grades were based on the consensus discussion results of the Delphi of 22 international experts.

RESULTS: Twenty-one systematic reviews and 21 randomized controlled trials were included. Spinal manipulative therapy and low-level laser therapy are recommended for acute low back pain. Core stability exercise/motor control, spinal manipulative therapy, and massage can be used to treat sub-acute low back pain.

CONCLUSIONS: The consensus statements provided medical staff with appliable recommendations of physical therapy for acute and sub-acute low back pain. This consensus statement will require regular updates after 5-10 years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalClinical Rehabilitation
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Feb 2024


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