The use and reported effects of mobilization with movement techniques in low back pain management; a cross-sectional descriptive survey of physiotherapists in Britain

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Manual therapy is the most commonly used approach in the management of low back pain (LBP) and encompasses a wide range of techniques. The aims of this study were to investigate the current use of mobilizations with movement (MWM) for LBP management in Britain and to inform future clinical research exploring their effects.

A postal survey of a random sample of 3295 practising physiotherapists in Britain was conducted. A response rate of 72.1% (n=2357) was obtained. Of these, 48.2% (n=1136) reported treating LBP, of whom 41.1% (n=467) reported using MWMs in LBP management. Therefore, the sample applicable for analysis consisted of these 467 therapists currently treating LBP and using MWMs. Most respondents (51.4%) worked in a national health service setting. Over half of the respondents used MWMs on at least a weekly basis, with 61.9% using MWMs primarily for mechanical LBP. The most commonly reported changes seen immediately after the application of MWMs were increases in range of movement (ROM) (54.4%) and pain relief (27.5%). This was also reflected in the outcomes chosen to evaluate improvement. On average, two spinal levels were mobilized using 2–3 sets of 4–5 repetitions. The lower lumbar levels were treated more often. Most therapists indicated using a combination of other treatment approaches together with MWMs when treating LBP patients.

In conclusion, this study is the first to describe the current practice of MWMs by physiotherapists in Britain, and the results will be used to inform the design of a clinical trial exploring the effects of MWMs for LBP.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-214
Number of pages9
JournalManual Therapy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2002