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Lumbar Spine Manual Therapy for Aging and Older Adults

Yen, Sheng-Che PT, PhD; Chui, Kevin K. PT, DPT, PhD, GCS, OCS, FAAOMPT; Markowski, Alycia DPT, MPhyS(manip), OCS, FAAOMPT; Fitzpatrick, Diane F. PT, DPT, MS, GCS; Wang, Ying-Chih PhD, OTR/L; Corkery, Marie B. PT, DPT, MHS, FAAOMPT

doi: 10.1097/TGR.0000000000000065
Manual Therapy for Aging and Older Adults

Low back pain (LBP) is among the most common health problems seen in primary care. The prevalence of severe LBP increased as age increased. Using manual therapy to relieve pain and stiffness associated with LBP is commonly seen in physical therapy practice. We reviewed existing studies, which included aging and older adults to elucidate the effectiveness of manual therapy on LBP in these populations. The techniques reviewed were spinal manipulation and soft tissue massage. We found that existing research on manual therapy for LBP has focused on younger adults, and many trials have excluded adults older than 65 years. Current evidence, though limited, generally supports that manual therapy is effective for treating LBP in aging and older adult populations. We were not able to conclude whether manual therapy is safe for these populations because adverse events were not reported in most studies reviewed. Further research is warranted to address limitations in current literature.

Department of Physical Therapy (Drs Yen, Markowski, Fitzpatrick, and Corkery), Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts; and Department of Physical Therapy (Dr Chui), College of Health Professions, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut; and Occupational Science and Technology Department (Dr Wang), College of Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Correspondence: Sheng-Che Yen, PT, PhD, Department of Physical Therapy, Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, 308G Robinson Hall, 360 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115 (

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

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