A random-perturbation therapy in chronic non-specific low-back pain patients: a randomised controlled trial.

The purpose of the study was to assess the effectiveness of a specific rehabilitation therapy for chronic non-specific low-back pain patients, based on a random/irregular functional perturbation training induced by force disturbances to the spine.

Forty patients (20 controls and 20 in the perturbation-based group) finished the whole experimental design. A random-perturbation exercise, which included variable and unpredictable disturbances, was implemented in the therapy of the perturbation-based group (13 weeks, two times per week and 1.5 h per session). The participants of the control group did not receive any specific training. Low-back pain, muscle strength, and neuromuscular control of spine stability were investigated before and after the therapy using the visual analog scale, maximal isometric and isokinetic contractions, nonlinear time series analysis, and by determining the stiffness and damping of the trunk after sudden perturbations.

The perturbation-based therapy reduced patient’s low-back pain (35%), increased muscle strength (15-22%), and trunk stiffness (13%), while no significant changes were observed in the control group. It can be concluded that the proposed therapy has the potential to enhance trunk muscle capability as well as sensory information processing within the motor system during sudden loading and, as a consequence, improve the stabilization of the trunk.