PainSci summary of Vroomen 1999?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.
In this sciatica study, researchers “randomly assigned 183 subjects to either bed rest or watchful waiting” for two weeks and found that “bed rest is not a more effective therapy than watchful waiting.” Nor is it less effective. The results were exactly the same. If that sounds like no big deal, consider the difference in the lives of those patients! Two weeks of bed rest? Compared to two weeks of going about your business!
original abstract†Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
BACKGROUND AND METHODS: Bed rest is widely advocated for sciatica, but its effectiveness has not been established. To study the effectiveness of bed rest in patients with a lumbosacral radicular syndrome of sufficient severity to justify treatment with bed rest for two weeks, we randomly assigned 183 subjects to either bed rest or watchful waiting for this period. The primary outcome measures were the investigator's and patient's global assessments of improvement after 2 and 12 weeks, and the secondary outcome measures were changes in functional status and in pain scores (after 2, 3, and 12 weeks), absenteeism from work, and the need for surgical intervention. Neither the investigators who assessed the outcomes nor those involved in data entry and analysis were aware of the patients' treatment assignments.
RESULTS: After two weeks, 64 of the 92 patients in the bed-rest group (70 percent) reported improvement, as compared with 59 of the 91 patients in the control (watchful-waiting) group (65 percent) (adjusted odds ratio for improvement in the bed-rest group, 1.2; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.6 to 2.3). After 12 weeks, 87 percent of the patients in both groups reported improvement. The results of assessments of the intensity of pain, the bothersomeness of symptoms, and functional status revealed no significant differences between the two groups. The extent of absenteeism from work and rates of surgical intervention were similar in the two groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Among patients with symptoms and signs of a lumbosacral radicular syndrome, bed rest is not a more effective therapy than watchful waiting.
These four articles on PainScience.com cite Vroomen 1999 as a source:
- PS Mobilize! — Dynamic joint mobility drills are an alternative to stretching that “massage with movement”
- PS A Guide to Sciatica Treatment for Patients — A guide to buttock and leg pain (which may or may not involve the sciatic nerve)
- PS Save Yourself from Low Back Pain! — Low back pain myths debunked and all your treatment options reviewed
- PS The Art of Rest — The finer points of resting strategy when recovering from injury and chronic pain (hint: it’s a bit trickier than you might think)
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- A Bayesian model-averaged meta-analysis of the power pose effect with informed and default priors: the case of felt power. Gronau 2017 Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology.
- The neck and headaches. Bogduk 2014 Neurol Clin.
- Agreement of self-reported items and clinically assessed nerve root involvement (or sciatica) in a primary care setting. Konstantinou 2012 Eur Spine J.
- Effect of NSAIDs on Recovery From Acute Skeletal Muscle Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Morelli 2017 Am J Sports Med.
- Association of Spinal Manipulative Therapy With Clinical Benefit and Harm for Acute Low Back Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Paige 2017 JAMA.