Exercise interventions for the treatment of chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

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Abstract

Objective:

To determine, for adults with chronic low back pain, which exercise interventions are the most effective at reducing pain compared to other treatments.

Data sources:

A search of MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, PsycINFO and The Cochrane Library was conducted up to October 2014.

Review methods:

Databases were searched for published reports of randomised trials that investigated the treatment of chronic low back pain of non-specific origin with an exercise intervention. Two authors independently reviewed and selected relevant trials. Methodological quality was evaluated using the Downs and Black tool.

Results:

Forty-five trials met the inclusion criteria and thirty-nine were included in the meta-analysis. Combined meta-analysis revealed significantly lower chronic low back pain with intervention groups using exercise compared to a control group or other treatment group (Standard Mean Deviation (SMD) =-0.32, CI 95% -0.44 to -0.19, P<0.01). Separate exploratory subgroup analysis showed a significant effect for strength/resistance and coordination/stabilisation programs.

Conclusions:

Our results found a beneficial effect for strength/resistance and coordination/stabilisation exercise programs over other interventions in the treatment of chronic low back pain and that cardiorespiratory and combined exercise programs are ineffective.

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