Motor Control Exercise Provides Relief for Chronic Low Back Pain

Low back pain isn’t exactly uncommon, yet finding the right treatment for patients remains a challenge. But a new approach, sans medication, may be just what back pain sufferers need.

Low back pain isn’t exactly uncommon, yet finding the right treatment for patients remains a challenge. But a new approach, sans medication, may be just what back pain sufferers need.

We already know that prescription drugs carry heavy risks and steroid injections don’t provide long-term relief — so what can patients do to for chronic low back pain? Well new research says that exercise, specifically motor control exercise which aims to improve coordination, can help with pain and disability.

“Targeting the strength and coordination of muscles that support the spine through motor control exercise offers an alternative approach to treating lower back pain,” lead author Bruno Saragiotto, a physiotherapist and PhD student from The George Institute, University of Sydney in Australia, said in a news release.

  • The MD Magazine Pain Management specialty page

Researchers analyzed 29 trials made up of 2,431 men and women between the ages 22 and 55. The findings published in Cochrane Library make quite the case for integrating motor control exercise into low back pain treatment.

The exercise proved to provide better function outcomes than with just minimal intervention strategies. When compared to manual therapy, motor control exercise had similar positive clinical outcomes after three to 12 months follow-up.

“We can be confident that they are as effective as other types of exercise, so the choice of exercise should take into account factors such as patient or therapist preferences, cost, and availability,” Saragiotto explained.

The team recognizes that there isn’t data on the long-term benefit of motor control exercise, however, it appears to be an effective method for short- and intermediate-term improvement in pain and disability.

“It’s important we see more research in this field so that patients can make more informed choices about persisting with treatment,” Saragiotto concluded.

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