Federico Temporiti, Silvano Ferrari, Michael Kieser, Roberto Gatti

May 2022, pp 1 - 21 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-022-07222-x

First Online: 05 May 2022

Efficacy and characteristics of physiotherapy interventions in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis: a systematic review


To determine the efficacy of physiotherapy approaches used in the treatment of LSS and compare their delivery characteristics.


A systematic search was conducted using MEDLINE/PubMed, EMBASE, Scopus, PEDro, CINAHL and Web of Science databases, from inception until March 2021. Inclusion criteria were clinical diagnosis of LSS confirmed through imaging techniques, RCTs written in English comparing physiotherapy interventions among them or versus placebo or usual care without restrictions on treatment and follow-up duration, outcomes related to pain, physical function, disability and quality of life. Two independent reviewers assessed records for eligibility and methodological quality (PEDro scale) and extracted participants’ characteristics, interventions details and outcome measures at each timepoint. Pooled or un-pooled findings were reported as mean difference with 95% confidence interval, depending on heterogeneity. Evidence quality was rated using the GRADE approach.


Twelve studies (944 patients, mean PEDro score 7.6, range 5–9) were included. Three weeks of weight-supported walking improved pain and disability, while 8 weeks of aquatic exercises improved pain and walking tolerance (very low evidence). Six weeks of cycling reduced disability compared to weight-supported walking (low evidence). Six weeks of manual therapy plus exercise was not superior to supervised exercises (low evidence), but improved pain, walking tolerance, disability and quality of life compared to home/group exercises (moderate to very low evidence). Very low evidence supported 2 weeks of electromagnetic fields, whereas TENS (low evidence) and ultrasounds (very low evidence) revealed no effects.


These findings may assist clinicians in delivering effective physiotherapy interventions in LSS patients.

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