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Outcomes of Nonsurgical Treatments for Symptomatic Adult Degenerative Scoliosis: A Systematic Review

PainSci » bibliography » Schoutens et al 2020
Tags: treatment, back pain, pain problems, spine

One page on PainSci cites Schoutens 2020: The Complete Guide to Low Back Pain

PainSci commentary on Schoutens 2020: ?This page is one of thousands in the 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 wherever possible.

This paper is a rather sad review just a handful of studies of a few common treatments for adult scoliosis: six studies of injections (for pain), bracing, yoga, and a small mixed bag of other treatments. There were a couple of virtually meaningless promising signals: maybe injections help the pain a bit more than anesthetic? Maybe yoga and bracing can slow curve progression? But much of the evidence was “very low quality” and no recommendations were deemed possible: garbage in, garbage out. The authors pleadingly conclude that “basic clinical research at any level would be helpful.”

~ Paul Ingraham

Common issues and characteristics relevant to this paper: ?Scientific papers have many common characteristics, flaws, and limitations, and many of these are rarely or never acknowledged in the paper itself, or even by other reviewers. I have reviewed thousands of papers, and described many of these issues literally hundreds of times. Eventually I got sick of repeating myself, and so now I just refer to a list common characteristics, especially flaws. Not every single one of them applies perfectly to every paper, but if something is listed here, it is relevant in some way. Note that in the case of reviews, the issue may apply to the science being reviewed, and not the review itself.

  1. Garbage in, garbage out — not enough good quality data to meaningfully review/analyze.

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.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effectiveness of nonsurgical treatments in symptomatic adult degenerative scoliosis (ADS).

DESIGN: A systematic literature review.

METHODS: PubMed, Web of Science, and The Cochrane Library were searched to identify research published since 1988. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational cohort studies were eligible if they featured symptomatic ADS patients aged ≥50 who received nonsurgical treatment. Minimum follow-up was six weeks, and outcomes of interest were pain, disability, quality of life, and Cobb angle. Evidence quality per intervention was rated using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) system.

RESULTS: Six studies were included. Of these, four focused specifically on injections, bracing, or yoga; two involved multiple treatments. One RCT provided evidence for greater effectiveness of transforaminal epidural steroid injection over anesthetic alone in reducing radiating pain and disability. Two single-group retrospective cohort studies lent support for bracing to slow curve progression. One retrospective single-group cohort study suggested an association between yoga and reduced curve progression. Evidence for injections to reduce ADS symptoms was rated as low quality; evidence for bracing and yoga was rated as very low quality. No specific evidence was identified regarding other treatments, including physical therapy and analgesics.

CONCLUSIONS: Literature describing the effectiveness of nonoperative treatments in symptomatic ADS is scarce. The quantity and quality of the evidence regarding injections, bracing, and yoga are insufficient to advise for or against the use of these methods to improve outcomes in symptomatic ADS. For these and other nonoperative treatment forms, further research is needed.

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