Exercise and encouraging a return to normal activities can help low back pain sufferers

July 30, 1999

(Randomised controlled trial of exercise for low back pain: clinical outcomes, costs and preferences)

A short programme of eight exercise classes led by a physiotherapist has been shown to help patients to cope with low back pain, suggests a study published in this week's BMJ. Dr Jennifer Klaber Moffett and colleagues from the University of York and University of London found that six months after participating in the classes, low back pain sufferers found a significant benefit compared with the control group who continued with usual primary care management. After one year a continuing and greater improvement in pain and disability was reported in the group who had attended the classes as compared to the control group.

The researchers studied 187 patients in the York area, aged 18 - 60 years, who had suffered lower back pain problems for between four weeks and six months. Recent management guidelines have recommended that an early return to physical activities should be encouraged, but, say the authors, patients are often afraid that movement after an acute onset of back pain may be harmful.

These findings by Klaber Moffett et al suggest that patients who participated in the classes felt more able to get back to normal activities. These patients also tended to use fewer healthcare resources and took fewer days off work, say the authors.

The authors conclude that based on their findings, this type of exercise programme should be more widely available.

Dr Jennifer Klaber Moffett, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Rehabilitation, University of Hull, Hull j.a.moffett@medschool.hull.ac.uk


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