Exercise Is an Important and Effective Treatment for Low Back Pain


According to a study released in September, ow back pain has been the leading cause of disability globally for at least the last 30 years. It has resulted in enormous direct and indirect costs to healthcare systems, to economic productivity, and to quality of life.

Thousands of people in Ontario suffer from low back pain. So many people in fact that the Ontario government developed a ‘Low Back Pain Strategy’ in 2014 to address treatment methods to better serve patients.

The program supported the integration of health providers (physiotherapists, kinesiologists, OTs, RMTs, and chiropractors) into the system with primary health care teams.

Clinical and treatment guidelines were changed with the aim of better improving outcomes, service provision and controlling spending.

These changes were prompted by the number of Ontarians suffering from lower back pain, combined with studies that show that approximately 90% of back pain was benign. The findings:
“…from a number of research studies, clinical practice guidelines and expert panel recommendations show that diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans and MRIs are not useful in treating chronic low back pain, unless there are specific signs of a serious underlying injury or disease. According to Back Care Canada, about 90 per cent of back pain is benign - that is, not caused by a serious underlying injury or disease.”

Since the guidelines were introduced and treatment protocols revised there has been an almost 20% drop in the amount of money spent on imaging and allowing more access to quality care close to home for patients.

Subsequent research has confirmed that exercise therapy for chronic lower back pain is very effective. A study published in Cochrane Library analyzed 249 trials of exercise treatment in Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East. There were some reservations noting bias in the results of most of the trials due to difficulty in ‘blinding’ the treatment trials.

The researchers found that there was:

“moderate certainty evidence that exercise treatment is more effective for the treatment of chronic low back pain compared to no treatment, usual care or placebo comparisons for pain outcomes at earliest follow-up (MD 15.2, 95% CI -18.3 to -12.2), a clinically important difference.”

They concluded that exercise is probably more effective in the treatment of chronic low back pain than no treatment, usual care and placebo use. Exercise improved pain and improved the functional limitations outcomes, and for some groups, it is more effective than advice or education alone, and electrotherapy. There were no differences noted in outcomes when compared to manual therapy treatments.

If you have been injured in a slip and fall or car accident due to someone else's negligence and have back pain contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Deutschmann Personal Injury and Disability Law today.

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