A retrospective study of a randomized clinical trial and a prospective study of patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS).
The aim of this study was to identify the effects of the number of physical therapy (PT) sessions on clinical outcomes of patients with LSS.
Summary of Background Data.
Supervised PT for patients with LSS has been reported to lead to better short-term outcomes in terms of disability and leg pain than unsupervised exercise. However, no studies have investigated the relationship between the number of PT sessions and the therapeutic effects in patients with LSS.
All patients received exercise therapy for 6 weeks. Included were 43 patients receiving supervised PT twice a week (P2 group), 38 patients receiving supervised PT once a week (P1 group), and 43 patients receiving a home exercise program alone (HE group). Clinical outcomes were measured using the Zurich Claudication Questionnaire (ZCQ), a numerical rating scale (NRS) of back pain and leg pain, the Japanese Orthopedic Association Back Pain Evaluation Questionnaire (JOABPEQ) at baseline and at 6 weeks.
At 6 weeks, the P2 group showed significant improvements in ZCQ physical function, back and leg pain on the NRS compared with the P1 group (P < 0.05). Compared with the HE group, the P2 group showed significant improvements in ZCQ symptom severity and physical function, back and leg pain on the NRS, and JOABPEQ gait disturbance (P < 0.05). There were no significant differences in mean changes after 6 weeks between the P1 and HE groups.
Six weeks of supervised PT twice a week resulted in significant short-term improvements in symptom severity, physical function, back and leg pain, and gait disturbance compared with once a week and/or home exercise alone. Patients with LSS should be treated with intensive and supervised exercise programs to obtain maximum benefit of exercise therapy.
Level of Evidence: 3