Examination procedures and interventions for the hip in the management of low back pain: a survey of physical therapists.


The main research aims were to investigate whether physical therapists are examining the hip(s) in individuals with a primary complaint of low back pain (LBP) and if so, the interventions being provided that target the hip(s).


An anonymous electronic survey was distributed to the membership of the American Physical Therapy Association Orthopaedic and Sports Sections, as well as that of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists. Participant demographics and survey responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Associations between variables were examined using chi-square analysis.


The estimated response rate was 18.4% (n=1163, mean age 40.5±11.4 years). The majority of respondents (91%, n=1059) reported they always or most of the time examined the hip(s) in individuals with LBP. The most common examination items utilized were hip strength testing (94%, n=948), passive range of motion (91%, n=921) and muscle flexibility testing (90%, n=906). The most common interventions included hip strengthening (94%, n=866) and hip flexibility exercises (90%, n=814). Respondents enrolled in or having completed a post-professional fellowship were more likely to utilize hip joint manual therapy techniques (x2=25.3, p=<0.001) and less likely to prescribe hip flexibility exercises (x2=7.9, p=0.005) or use electrophysical modalities (x2=4.3, p=0.039).


Physical therapists commonly examine and provide interventions directed at the hip(s) for individuals with LBP. Post-professional fellowship training appears to influence the intervention selection of the physical therapist, with an increase in usage of hip joint manual therapy and a decrease in hip muscle flexibility and modality usage.

Braz J Phys Ther. 2018 Oct 2. pii: S1413-3555(18)30355-1. doi: 10.1016/j.bjpt.2018.09.007.