Randomized controlled trial of neural mobilization after spinal surgery

Sally V. Scrimshaw, Christopher G. Maher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Study Design. Randomized controlled trial with 12-month follow-up. Objectives. To determine whether the addition of neural mobilization to standard postoperative care improved the outcome of lumbar spinal surgery. Summary of Background Data. It has been suggested that neural mobilization should be performed after spinal surgery to prevent nerve root adhesions and improve outcome. However, to date, there is no convincing evidence of the value of neural mobilization. Methods. Eighty-one patients undergoing lumbar discectomy, fusion, or laminectomy at a private hospital in Sydney were randomly allocated to standard postoperative care or standard care plus neural mobilization. Neural mobilization included passive movements and active exercises designed to mobilize the lumbosacral nerve roots and sciatic tract. Primary outcome measures were global perceived effect measured on a 7-point scale, pain measured using visual analogue scales and the McGill Pain Questionnaire, and disability measured with the Quebec Disability Scale. Results. All patients received the treatment as allocated with 12-month follow-up data available for 76 patients (94% of those randomized). There were no statistically significant or clinically significant benefits provided by the neural mobilization treatment for any outcome. Conclusions. The neural mobilization protocol evaluated in this study did not provide an additional benefit to standard postoperative care for patients undergoing spinal surgery. The authors advocate that this protocol not be used in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2647-2652
Number of pages6
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Discectomy
  • Laminectomy
  • Low back pain
  • Physical therapy
  • Postoperative care
  • Randomized controlled trials
  • Spinal fusion


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