The Manual Therapy delivered was identical and involved mobilization of the lumbar spine.
What differed? The 5 minute education prior to delivery of Manual Therapy.
One group received neuroplasticity education to introduce the concept of brain mapping and the ability for the brain to sharpen the map through manual treatments.
The control group received a 5 min education on the physiology of the lumbar spine and details about the physical mechanisms involved in manual therapy as a treatment option.
The three outcomes measured were back pain, leg pain, lumbar flexion (fingers to floor) and straight leg raise. There was no statistical difference in back pain, leg pain, lumbar flexion (fingers to floor). But, what the researchers did find was a significant difference in the straight leg raise. The group that received the neuroplasticity education prior to receiving manual therapy was statistically 7.2 x more likely to improve in straight leg raise compared to control group.
What does this mean?
When we give a neuroplasticity education, the nervous system calms down since the straight leg raise is a test of neuro-dynamics (how well the nervous system is moving). Pathomechanical education preceding the exact same assessment and manual therapy does not affect the nervous system, therefore it does not produce the same results.
Conclusion: Words matter. How you explain the WHY behind your treatments have a big impact on their efficacy.