STOPS is a research group in Australia whose mission is to optimise patient outcomes for physical therapists treating low back pain.

The Specific Treatment of Problems of the Spine (STOPS) trial were established in 2009 by Dr Jon Ford to prove that high quality Physical Therapy is effective. To achieve this goal we made a number of strategic decisions including:

  • Focusing on subacute LBP where spontaneous recovery has "run its course" but the complexities of chronic LBP has not yet set in
  • Evaluating widely used Physical Therapy treatments specific to common subgroups of LBP
  • Selection of subgroups including reducible discogenic pain (treated with a McKenzie approach), Z joint pain (treated with Maitland type manual therapy), other discogenic injury (treated with Functional Restoration and motor control) and multifactorial persistent pain (treated with Functional Restoration and a cognitive-behavioural approach)
  • Comparing specific Physical Therapy to advice which is currently recommended by guidelines for subacute LBP

The STOPS trial was completed in 2012 with the recruitment of 300 participants. It is the first randomised controlled trial showing moderate to large effect sizes (particularly on back and leg pain) favouring specific Physical Therapy compared to evidence-based advice in subacute non-compensable low back disorders (LBD). A range of secondary outcome measures (global perceived effect, satisfaction with the treatment) also showed clinically meaningful effects. The evidence from the STOPS trial is clear; specific Physical Therapy for subacute LBD works!

Results of STOPS

The STOPS results prove that specific Physical Therapy works provided it adheres to certain quality requirements. Please visit STOPS Clinical Education for more informations. 

Physiopedia Project

The STOPS team has been collaboratibg with Physiopedia since October 2012.  They were an instrumental part of the blogging team at IFOMPT 2012 and since then have set up a STOPS Project in Physiopedia.

Contact details 

E-mail : [email protected]