A graded exercise intervention, emphasizing stabilizing exercises, for patients with recurrent low back pain (LBP) still at work seems more effective in improving disability and health parameters than daily walks, says a study in the February 1 issue (Vol 34 Issue 3) of Spine.

Seventy-one patients with recurrent LBP seeking care at an outpatient physical therapy clinic were randomized into 2 treatment groups – graded exercise intervention or daily walks. Treatment was for 8 weeks, with follow-up post-treatment and at 6, 12, and 36 months. The primary outcome was perceived disability and pain at 12-month follow-up. Secondary outcomes included physical health, fear-avoidance, and self-efficacy beliefs.

At 12 months, comparison showed a reduction in perceived disability in favor of the exercise group, whereas such an effect for pain emerged only immediately post-intervention. Ratings of physical health and self-efficacy beliefs also improved in the exercise group over the long term, though no changes were observed for fear-avoidance beliefs.