Effectiveness of Physical Therapy Combined With Epidural Steroid Injection for Individuals With Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: A Randomized Parallel-Group Trial

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Objective: To examine the effectiveness of epidural steroid injection (ESI) and back education with and without physical therapy (PT) in individuals with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). Design: Randomized clinical trial. Setting: Orthopedic spine clinics. Participants: A total of 390 individuals were screened with 60 eligible and randomly selected to receive ESI and education with or without PT (N=54). Interventions: A total of 54 individuals received 1-3 injections and education in a 10-week intervention period, with 31 receiving injections and education only (ESI) and 23 additionally receiving 8-10 sessions of multimodal PT (ESI+PT). Main Outcome Measures: Disability, pain, quality of life, and global rating of change were collected at 10 weeks, 6 months, and 1 year and analyzed using linear mixed model analysis. Results: No significant difference was found between ESI and ESI+PT in the Oswestry Disability Index at any time point, although the sample had significant improvements at 10 weeks (P<.001; 95% confidence interval [CI], −18.01 to −5.51) and 1 year (P=.01; 95% CI, −14.57 to −2.03) above minimal clinically important difference. Significant differences in the RAND 36-Item Short Form Health Survey 1.0 were found for ESI+PT at 10 weeks with higher emotional role function (P=.03; 95% CI, −49.05 to −8.01), emotional well-being (P=.02; 95% CI, −19.52 to -2.99), and general health perception (P=.05; 95% CI, −17.20 to −.78). Conclusions: Epidural steroid injection plus PT was not superior to ESI alone for reducing disability in individuals with LSS. Significant benefit was found for the addition of PT related to quality of life factors of emotional function, emotional well-being, and perception of general health.

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