Table 1

General characteristics

Study characteristicNo. (%) of RCTs
(N=46)
Year of publication
 1961–19701 (2.2)
 1971–19802 (4.3)
 1981–19907 (15.2)
 1991–20008 (17.4)
 2001–201016 (34.8)
 2011–201912 (26.1)
Intervention*
 Acupuncture2 (1.7)
 Back school2 (1.7)
 Cognitive behavioural therapy4 (3.3)
 Education5 (4.2)
 Exercise7 (5.8)
 Heat wrap5 (4.2)
 Inert treatment34 (28.3)
 Manual therapy12 (10.0)
 Muscle relaxant10 (8.3)
 NSAIDs18 (15.0)
 Opioids3 (2.5)
 Paracetamol5 (4.2)
 Physical therapy1 (0.8)
 Steroids3 (2.5)
 Usual care9 (7.5)
Length of treatment*
 ≤7 days66 (55)
 >7 days29 (24.2)
 Not reported25 (20.8)
Stage of NS-LBP
 Acute NS-LBP30 (65.2)
 Subacute NS-LBP2 (4.4)
 Acute and subacute14 (30.4)
Presence of leg pain or sciatica
 Yes15 (31.2)
 No19 (39.6)
 Not stated14 (29.2)
Study setting
 Multicentre22 (47.8)
 Single centre24 (52.2)
Outcomes and follow-up
Pain (n=46)
 At immediate-term (1 week)35 (76.1)
 At short-term (1 month)16 (34.8)
 At medium-term (3–6 months)13 (28.3)
 At long-term (12 months)9 (19.6)
Disability (n=31)
 At immediate-term (1 week)21 (67.7)
 At short-term (1 month)14 (45.2)
 At medium-term (3–6 months)11 (35.5)
 At longterm (12 months)7 (22.6)
Any adverse event26 (56.5)
  • *The total number of interventions is higher due to multiarms trials (n=120).

  • †One study involved three patient subgroups (one with leg pain, two without leg pain) (n=48).

  • NSAIDs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; NS-LBP, non-specific low back pain.