Fascia Manipulation versus traditional PT: An evidence-based article
Last January 2019, The Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies released a study on the effects of Fascia Manipulation vs traditional Physical therapy exercise for the treatment of Low back pain. This article brings to light a key factor in treating back pain.
Approximately 70-80% of all people will have some type of back pain during their lifetimes. Annually, back pain prevalence ranges from 15% to 45% (Praemer et al., 1999). This alarming global statistic shows evidence of how physically demanding occupations can be today. Low back pain has been quoted by some medical authors as the “Common Cold of our Musculoskeletal System” because of numerous visits by people from all walks of life to PT clinics complaining about the same thing.
Back pain today isn’t as treatable as before due to the ever-growing demand for physical labor, poor working environment and arising work hazards — especially in some less developed countries. Let’s face it, most of us weren’t really “educated” on proper body movement and how to take care of yourself on periods of high physical activity. In my home country the Philippines, the PT profession lacks external support when it comes to educating the population of proper body mechanics — you will probably learn this concept when you earn your medical or PT degree — or when the damage has been dealt.
Approximately 24-80% of those who experience LBP will have another episode of back pain within one year (Luo et al., 2004).
Fascia Manipulation (FM)
In simple terms, FM involves the assessment and treatment of your body’s Fascia system –which is a thin sheath of fibrous tissue covering a muscle tissue or organ. This procedure is widely used for Acute and chronic pain, sports injuries and neurological pain disorders.
FM vs Traditional PT
In the study, 102 subjects complaining about LBP were divided into two groups: FM and TPT group. Both groups underwent a 6-month clinical trial which included initial evaluation and follow-up check-ups. Treatment sessions lasted for 60-90 minutes depending on multiple factors such as the prescription based on the therapist’s clinical judgment.
The TPT group received treatments based on the current Clinical Practice Guidelines of LBP consisting of Lumbar mobilization, Trunk coordination and strengthening, centralization exercises and neurodynamic exercises.
The FM group was handled by therapists by experienced therapists who expert on this field of rehabilitation. FM procedures included: Soft tissue mobilization such as transverse friction massage and stretching, muscle energy techniques and spinal mobilization thrust and non-thrust.
The conclusions of the study greatly favor the FM group in terms of subjective reports and pain scales. The table above implies that manual therapies that include fascia manipulation greatly improve the potential for tissue healing in patients with back pain. Chronicity of the subject’s condition did not affect the results of their study.