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1.  Effectiveness of calf muscle stretching for the short-term treatment of plantar heel pain: a randomised trial 
Plantar heel pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders of the foot and ankle. Treatment of the condition is usually conservative, however the effectiveness of many treatments frequently used in clinical practice, including stretching, has not been established. We performed a participant-blinded randomised trial to assess the effectiveness of calf muscle stretching, a commonly used short-term treatment for plantar heel pain.
Ninety-two participants with plantar heel pain were recruited from the general public between April and June 2005. Participants were randomly allocated to an intervention group that were prescribed calf muscle stretches and sham ultrasound (n = 46) or a control group who received sham ultrasound alone (n = 46). The intervention period was two weeks. No participants were lost to follow-up. Primary outcome measures were 'first-step' pain (measured on a 100 mm Visual Analogue Scale) and the Foot Health Status Questionnaire domains of foot pain, foot function and general foot health.
Both treatment groups improved over the two week period of follow-up but there were no statistically significant differences in improvement between groups for any of the measured outcomes. For example, the mean improvement for 'first-step' pain (0–100 mm) was -19.8 mm in the stretching group and -13.2 mm in the control group (adjusted mean difference between groups -7.9 mm; 95% CI -18.3 to 2.6). For foot function (0–100 scale), the stretching group improved 16.2 points and the control group improved 8.3 points (adjusted mean difference between groups 7.3; 95% CI -0.1 to 14.8). Ten participants in the stretching group experienced an adverse event, however most events were mild to moderate and short-lived.
When used for the short-term treatment of plantar heel pain, a two-week stretching program provides no statistically significant benefit in 'first-step' pain, foot pain, foot function or general foot health compared to not stretching.
PMCID: PMC1867816  PMID: 17442119
2.  Effectiveness of low-Dye taping for the short-term treatment of plantar heel pain: a randomised trial 
Plantar heel pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders of the foot and ankle. Treatment of the condition is usually conservative, however the effectiveness of many treatments frequently used in clinical practice, including supportive taping of the foot, has not been established. We performed a participant-blinded randomised trial to assess the effectiveness of low-Dye taping, a commonly used short-term treatment for plantar heel pain.
Ninety-two participants with plantar heel pain (mean age 50 ± 14 years; mean body mass index 30 ± 6; and median self-reported duration of symptoms 10 months, range of 2 to 240 months) were recruited from the general public between February and June 2005. Participants were randomly allocated to (i) low-Dye taping and sham ultrasound or (ii) sham ultrasound alone. The duration of follow-up for each participant was one week. No participants were lost to follow-up. Outcome measures included 'first-step' pain (measured on a 100 mm Visual Analogue Scale) and the Foot Health Status Questionnaire domains of foot pain, foot function and general foot health.
Participants treated with low-Dye taping reported a small improvement in 'first-step' pain after one week of treatment compared to those who did not receive taping. The estimate of effect on 'first-step' pain favoured the low-Dye tape (ANCOVA adjusted mean difference -12.3 mm; 95% CI -22.4 to -2.2; P = 0.017). There were no other statistically significant differences between groups. Thirteen participants in the taping group experienced an adverse event however most were mild to moderate and short-lived.
When used for the short-term treatment of plantar heel pain, low-Dye taping provides a small improvement in 'first-step' pain compared with a sham intervention after a one-week period.
PMCID: PMC1569832  PMID: 16895612
3.  Individuals with chronic low back pain have greater difficulty in engaging in positive lifestyle behaviours than those without back pain: An assessment of health literacy 
Despite the large volume of research dedicated to understanding chronic low back pain (CLBP), patient outcomes remain modest while healthcare costs continue to rise, creating a major public health burden. Health literacy - the ability to seek, understand and utilise health information - has been identified as an important factor in the course of other chronic conditions and may be important in the aetiology of CLBP. Many of the currently available health literacy measurement tools are limited since they measure narrow aspects of health literacy. The Health Literacy Measurement Scale (HeLMS) was developed recently to measure broader elements of health literacy. The aim of this study was to measure broad elements of health literacy among individuals with CLBP and without LBP using the HeLMS.
Thirty-six community-dwelling adults with CLBP and 44 with no history of LBP responded to the HeLMS. Individuals were recruited as part of a larger community-based spinal health study in Western Australia. Scores for the eight domains of the HeLMS as well as individual item responses were compared between the groups.
HeLMS scores were similar between individuals with and without CLBP for seven of the eight health literacy domains (p > 0.05). However, compared to individuals with no history of LBP, those with CLBP had a significantly lower score in the domain 'Patient attitudes towards their health' (mean difference [95% CI]: 0.46 [0.11-0.82]) and significantly lower scores for each of the individual items within this domain (p < 0.05). Moderate effect sizes ranged from d = 0.47-0.65.
Although no differences were identified in HeLMS scores between the groups for seven of the health literacy domains, adults with CLBP reported greater difficulty in engaging in general positive health behaviours. This aspect of health literacy suggests that self-management support initiatives may benefit individuals with CLBP.
PMCID: PMC3155909  PMID: 21756363
health literacy; low back pain; health information; HeLMS; self-management
4.  Efficacy of a multimodal physiotherapy treatment program for hip osteoarthritis: a randomised placebo-controlled trial protocol 
Hip osteoarthritis (OA) is a common condition leading to pain, disability and reduced quality of life. There is currently limited evidence to support the use of conservative, non-pharmacological treatments for hip OA. Exercise and manual therapy have both shown promise and are typically used together by physiotherapists to manage painful hip OA. The aim of this randomised controlled trial is to compare the efficacy of a physiotherapy treatment program with placebo treatment in reducing pain and improving physical function.
The trial will be conducted at the University of Melbourne Centre for Health, Exercise and Sports Medicine. 128 participants with hip pain greater or equal to 40/100 on visual analogue scale (VAS) and evidence of OA on x-ray will be recruited. Treatment will be provided by eight community physiotherapists in the Melbourne metropolitan region. The active physiotherapy treatment will comprise a semi-structured program of manual therapy and exercise plus education and advice. The placebo treatment will consist of sham ultrasound and the application of non-therapeutic gel. The participants and the study assessor will be blinded to the treatment allocation. Primary outcomes will be pain measured by VAS and physical function recorded on the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) immediately after the 12 week intervention. Participants will also be followed up at 36 weeks post baseline.
The trial design has important strengths of reproducibility and reflecting contemporary physiotherapy practice. The findings from this randomised trial will provide evidence for the efficacy of a physiotherapy program for painful hip OA.
Trial Registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry reference: ACTRN12610000439044
PMCID: PMC2966457  PMID: 20946621
5.  Efficacy and safety of vertebroplasty for treatment of painful osteoporotic vertebral fractures: a randomised controlled trial [ACTRN012605000079640] 
Vertebroplasty is a promising but as yet unproven treatment for painful osteoporotic vertebral fractures. It involves radiographic-guided injection of various types of bone cement directly into the vertebral fracture site. Uncontrolled studies and two controlled quasi-experimental before-after studies comparing volunteers who were offered treatment to those who refused it, have suggested an early benefit including rapid pain relief and improved function. Conversely, several uncontrolled studies and one of the controlled before-after studies have also suggested that vertebroplasty may increase the risk of subsequent vertebral fractures, particularly in vertebrae adjacent to treated levels or if cement leakage into the adjacent disc has occurred. As yet, there are no completed randomised controlled trials of vertebroplasty for osteoporotic vertebral fractures. The aims of this participant and outcome assessor-blinded randomised placebo-controlled trial are to i) determine the short-term efficacy and safety (3 months) of vertebroplasty for alleviating pain and improving function for painful osteoporotic vertebral fractures; and ii) determine its medium to longer-term efficacy and safety, particularly the risk of further fracture over 2 years.
A double-blind randomised controlled trial of 200 participants with one or two recent painful osteoporotic vertebral fractures. Participants will be stratified by duration of symptoms (< and ≥ 6 weeks), gender and treating radiologist and randomly allocated to either the treatment or placebo. Outcomes will be assessed at baseline, 1 week, 1, 3, 6, 12 and 24 months. Outcome measures include overall, night and rest pain on 10 cm visual analogue scales, quality of life measured by the Assessment of Quality of Life, Osteoporosis Quality of Life and EQ-5D questionnaires; participant perceived recovery on a 7-point ordinal scale ranging from 'a great deal worse' to 'a great deal better'; disability measured by the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire; timed 'Up and Go' test; and adverse effects. The presence of new fractures will be assessed by radiographs of the thoracic and lumbar spine performed at 12 and 24 months.
The results of this trial will be of major international importance and findings will be immediately translatable into clinical practice.
Trial registration
Australian Clinical Trial Register # [ACTRN012605000079640]
PMCID: PMC2611988  PMID: 19025665
6.  Efficacy and safety of a subacromial continuous ropivacaine infusion for post-operative pain management following arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery: A protocol for a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial 
Major shoulder surgery often results in severe post-operative pain and a variety of interventions have been developed in an attempt to address this. The continuous slow infusion of a local anaesthetic directly into the operative site has recently gained popularity but it is expensive and as yet there is little conclusive evidence that it provides additional benefits over other methods of post-operative pain management.
This will be a randomised, placebo-controlled trial involving 158 participants. Following diagnostic arthroscopy, all participants will undergo arthroscopic subacromial decompression with or without rotator cuff repair, all operations performed by a single surgeon. Participants, the surgeon, nurses caring for the patients and outcome assessors will be blinded to treatment allocation. All participants will receive a pre-incision bolus injection of 20 mls of ropivacaine 1% into the shoulder and an intra-operative intravenous bolus of parecoxib 40 mg. Using concealed allocation participants will be randomly assigned to active treatment (local anaesthetic ropivacaine 0.75%) or placebo (normal saline) administered continuously into the subacromial space by an elastomeric pump at 5 mls per hour post-operatively. Patient controlled opioid analgesia and oral analgesics will be available for breakthrough pain. Outcome assessment will be at 15, 30 and 60 minutes, 2, 4, 8, 12, 18 and 24 hours, and 2 or 4 months for decompression or decompression plus repair respectively.
The primary end point will be average pain at rest over the first 12-hour post-operative period on a verbal analogue pain score. Secondary end points will be average pain at rest over the second 12-hour post-operative period, maximal pain at rest over the first and second 12-hour periods, amount of rescue medication used, length of inpatient stay and incidence of post-operative adhesive capsulitis.
The results of this trial will contribute to evidence-based recommendations for the effectiveness of pain management modalities following arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery. If the local anaesthetic pain-buster provides no additional benefits over placebo then valuable resources can be put to better use in other ways.
Trial registration
Australian Clinical Trials Register Number ACTR12606000195550
PMCID: PMC2386465  PMID: 18430210
7.  Efficacy and cost-effectiveness of a physiotherapy program for chronic rotator cuff pathology: A protocol for a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial 
Chronic rotator cuff pathology (CRCP) is a common shoulder condition causing pain and disability. Physiotherapy is often the first line of management for CRCP yet there is little conclusive evidence to support or refute its effectiveness and no formal evaluation of its cost-effectiveness.
This randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial will involve 200 participants with CRCP recruited from medical practices, outpatient departments and the community via print and radio media. Participants will be randomly allocated to a physiotherapy or placebo group using concealed allocation stratified by treating physiotherapist. Both groups will receive 10 sessions of individual standardised treatment over 10 weeks from one of 10 project physiotherapists. For the following 12 weeks, the physiotherapy group will continue a home exercise program and the placebo group will receive no treatment. The physiotherapy program will comprise shoulder joint and spinal mobilisation, soft tissue massage, postural taping, and home exercises for scapular control, posture and rotator cuff strengthening. The placebo group will receive inactive ultrasound and gentle application of an inert gel over the shoulder region. Blinded assessment will be conducted at baseline and at 10 weeks and 22 weeks after randomisation. The primary outcome measures are self reported questionnaires including the shoulder pain and disability index (SPADI), average pain on an 11-point numeric rating scale and participant perceived global rating of change. Secondary measures include Medical Outcomes Study 36-item short form (SF-36), Assessment of Quality of Life index, numeric rating scales for shoulder pain and stiffness, participant perceived rating of change for pain, strength and stiffness, and manual muscle testing for shoulder strength using a handheld dynamometer. To evaluate cost-effectiveness, participants will record the use of all health-related treatments in a log-book returned to the assessor monthly. To test the effect of the intervention using an intention-to-treat analysis, linear regression modelling will be applied adjusting for baseline outcome values and other demographic characteristics. Participant measures of perceived change will be compared between groups by calculating the relative risks and their 95% confidence intervals at each time point using log binomial regression.
Results from this trial will contribute to the evidence regarding the effectiveness of a physiotherapy program for the management of CRCP.
Trial registration
NIH Clinical Trials Registry # NCT00415441
PMCID: PMC2048959  PMID: 17761004
8.  Can a disease-specific education program augment self-management skills and improve Health-Related Quality of Life in people with hip or knee osteoarthritis? 
Patient education and self-management programs are offered in many countries to people with chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis (OA). The most well-known is the disease-specific Stanford Arthritis Self-Management Program (ASMP). While Australian and international clinical guidelines promote the concept of self-management for OA, there is currently little evidence to support the use of the ASMP. Several meta-analyses have reported that arthritis self-management programs had minimal or no effect on reducing pain and disability. However, previous studies have had methodological shortcomings including the use of outcome measures which do not accurately reflect program goals. Additionally, limited cost-effectiveness analyses have been undertaken and the cost-utility of the program has not been explored.
This study is a randomised controlled trial to determine the efficacy (in terms of Health-Related Quality of Life and self-management skills) and cost-utility of a 6-week group-based Stanford ASMP for people with hip or knee OA.
Six hundred participants referred to an orthopaedic surgeon or rheumatologist for hip or knee OA will be recruited from outpatient clinics at 2 public hospitals and community-based private practices within 2 private hospital settings in Victoria, Australia. Participants must be 18 years or over, fluent in English and able to attend ASMP sessions. Exclusion criteria include cognitive dysfunction, previous participation in self-management programs and placement on a waiting list for joint replacement surgery or scheduled joint replacement.
Eligible, consenting participants will be randomised to an intervention group (who receive the ASMP and an arthritis self-management book) or a control group (who receive the book only). Follow-up will be at 6 weeks, 3 months and 12 months using standardised self-report measures. The primary outcome is Health-Related Quality of Life at 12 months, measured using the Assessment of Quality of Life instrument. Secondary outcome measures include the Health Education Impact Questionnaire, Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (pain subscale and total scores), Kessler Psychological Distress Scale and the Hip and Knee Multi-Attribute Priority Tool. Cost-utility analyses will be undertaken using administrative records and self-report data. A subgroup of 100 participants will undergo qualitative interviews to explore the broader potential impacts of the ASMP.
Using an innovative design combining both quantitative and qualitative components, this project will provide high quality data to facilitate evidence-based recommendations regarding the ASMP.
PMCID: PMC1693560  PMID: 17134516

Results 1-8 (8)