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Effectiveness of treatments for acute and subacute mechanical non-specific low back pain: a systematic review with network meta-analysis
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  • Published on:
    Comment on “Effectiveness of treatments for acute and subacute mechanical non- specific low back pain: a systematic review with network meta- analysis”
    • Jie Wei, Hematology People’s Hospital of Baise
    • Other Contributors:
      • Dalang Fang, Breast and Thyroid Surgery

    Dear Editor:
    We read the paper by Gianola et al1 with interest. The authors performed a network meta-analysis to assess the effectiveness of interventions for acute and subacute non- specific low back pain (NS-LBP) based on pain and disability outcomes. They concluded that with uncertainty of evidence, NS-LBP should be managed with non- pharmacological treatments which seem to mitigate pain and disability at immediate-term. Among pharmacological interventions, NSAIDs and muscle relaxants appear to offer the best harm–benefit balance. After carefully reading, we wish to put forth the following suggestions.
    Repeatedly including the same study population will affect the total sample size and the number of participants in each group; thus, duplicated studies using the same study population should not be included in a meta-analysis. However, in Table 3, we found that many studies were conducted by the same authors (Takamoto; Williams), with same category of intervention (Manual therapy; Paracetamol) and incidence of adverse events. Hence, we suspect that these are duplicate studies. This will affect the credibility of the result. Although these studies have low weights in the summary estimates, it's a matter of principle. The author should formulate strict inclusion and exclusion criteria, exclude repeated literature using the same study as a whole, and select the literature with the best quality or the largest sample size for analysis.

    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    Flawed research on treatment of back pain does not reflect clinical practice
    • Nick Webborn, Clinical Professor (Sport & Exercise Medicine University of Brighton

    I thank the authors for their work in addressing the challenge of evaluation of that enigma of "acute and subacute mechanical non-specific low back pain". However given that this is not a specific diagnosis of a pathology it makes it difficult to truly compare like with like. However as practitioners we assess and manage the back pain patient based upon the symptoms and clinical findings. No practitioner I know uses one modality and expects that to be the most effective therapy, except perhaps the primary care physician prescribing analgesics because of service limitations. Clearly pain is one issue, but objectively we find increased muscle tone/ acute spasm, loss of normal movement patterns and particularly across a number of affected spinal segments and possibly neural referral patterns. Consequently to unpick the combination of pain, spasm and limitation of movement that is self-perpetuating, we use a combination of modalities to achieve specific goals. For example, one might use Western acupuncture to release muscle spasm in paraspinal muscles that may facilitate manual mobilisation that would not have been possible in the presence of the spasm. The mobilisation of the spinal segments facilitates more normal movement patterns which reduces pain on movement. Furthermore as the clinical condition progresses we continually adapt which modality we use at each session in accordance with the patient's response and reduce prescribed medications when the con...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.