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Physio findings: back pain, children's pain, metbolic syndrome

Research that’s relevant to physios: Janet Wright reports on the latest clinical news

Back Pain: Work in progress

Can acupuncture relieve the common problem of backache during pregnancy? A major NHS study led by physiotherapist Nadine Foster aims to find out.

More than two thirds of pregnant women experience back pain. Though some physiotherapists find acupuncture helpful, there is little published evidence about its clinical value or cost-effectiveness.

Professor Foster, of Keele University, plans to start the EASE BACK trial (Evaluating acupuncture and standard care for pregnant women with low back pain) with a two-year-long feasibility and pilot study.

Funded by the Health Technology Assessment programme of the National Institute for Health Research, the team will be asking physios, other health professionals and pregnant women for their views.

In the next step, they aim to recruit 180 women to a randomised control pilot trial. The women will receive either standard care (self-help information and referral to a physio if necessary), or standard care plus acupuncture, or standard care plus sham acupuncture in which needles do not penetrate the skin.

‘If the study shows that acupuncture treatments are acceptable to these women and health professionals, that our methods for identifying and recruiting women and of assessing their symptoms and responses to treatment are acceptable, and that sufficient numbers of women agree to participate in a trial, then we will have confidence that a main trial will be achievable in the NHS,’ said Professor Foster.

Find out more at: www.hta.ac.uk/project/2807.asp

Answer to children’s pain remains unclear

Australian researchers investigating the value of physiotherapy for children with complex pain have called for high-quality studies to be carried out.

Andrea Bialocerkowski and Anne Daly, of the University of Western Sydney’s School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, were looking into complex regional pain syndrome type 1, a chronic condition causing severe pain and swelling, but with no nerve lesions.

Though the 12 studies they found were not of high quality, they said, these suggested that physiotherapy prescribed with other interventions might lead to short-term improvement, but with a moderately high relapse rate.

Bialocerkowski AE, Daly A. Is physiotherapy effective for children with complex regional pain syndrome type 1? Clinical Journal of Pain 2012; 28: 81-91

Men run away from metabolic syndrome

Women take little more than half as much exercise as men on average, putting themselves at risk of physical illness and depression, say researchers.

Paul D. Loprinzi and Bradley J. Cardinal, of Oregon State University, studied more than 1,000 adults who wore accelerometers – devices that measure a person’s daily activity. They found that women did 18 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise a day, compared with the men’s 30 minutes.

The women had higher rates of depression and of ‘metabolic syndrome’ – a cluster of signs such as high cholesterol and increased girth round the middle that give an increased risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

‘The results indicate that regular physical activity participation was associated with positive health outcomes for both men and women,’ said the authors. And the association was even stronger for women than for men, they added.

Loprinzi PD, Cardinal BJ. Interrelationships among physical activity, depression, homocysteine, and metabolic syndrome with special considerations by sex. Preventive Medicine 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2012.03.016


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