Low Back Pain in a General Population. Natural Course and Influence of Physical Exercise-A 5-Year Follow-up of the Musculoskeletal Intervention Center-Norrtalje Study.

Mortimer, Monica PhD; Pernold, Gunilla MSc; Wiktorin, Christina PhD

The objective of this research was to study the natural course of pain and disability due to LBP during a 5-year follow-up period, and to investigate the possible influence of regular physical exercise on recovery. At baseline, a total of 790 subjects seeking care for LBP were interviewed about physical exercise during leisure time. Over 5 years, 3 follow-up assessments were made by postal questionnaire. At all measuring points, pain intensity ratings and disability scores were compared between men and women, and among 3 exercise categories. The results showed that the  pain intensity and disability scores were improved after 5 years for both men and women. The most prominent improvements occurred after 6 months, but less so thereafter. There were no significant differences between men and women with regard to individual changes at the 5-year follow-up concerning the pain intensity or disability scores. There were no significant differences, either for women or men, between low, median, or high intensity exercise groups regarding pain intensity or disability values for the individual change at the 5-year follow-up. The authors conclude that Over a 5-year period, both men and women who had sought care for LBP reported a decrease in pain and disability; however, only a few were fully restored. In this study, we found no effect of nonspecific physical exercise on recovery from LBP in men and women.

Spine. 31(26):3045-3051, December 15, 2006.

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