Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared treatments for NSLBP with placebo and reported a continuous measure of pain were eligible for inclusion in the review. Studies where the placebo intervention was a contemporary treatment (such as an educational booklet) were excluded. Excluded participants included those with radicular syndrome, cauda equina syndrome, infection, neoplasm, inflammatory disease, pregnancy, fracture or spinal surgery in the preceding 12-month period. Primary prevention studies were excluded.
Included studies assessed 34 different types of treatment intervention. The most frequently assessed treatments were muscle relaxants, followed by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and spinal manipulative therapy; other frequently investigated interventions were acupuncture, anti-depressants, herbal medicines, radiofrequency denervation and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Concurrent therapy (mainly rescue medication or continuation of previous treatments) was provided in approximately 44% of comparisons between treatment and placebo; baseline care was provided in approximately 12% of comparisons.Most studies assessed chronic NSLBP.
The authors stated neither how papers were selected for review nor how many reviewers performed the selection.