Two Approaches, Similar Improvement in Back Pain

Group multidisciplinary rehab, individual exercise programs lead to improvements in pain, disability
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- For individuals with chronic low back pain, a multidisciplinary group rehabilitation program and an individual therapist-assisted back strengthening program are associated with similar long-term improvements in pain and disability, according to research published in the March 1 issue of Spine.

Ninna Dufour, M.D., of the Glostrup University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues analyzed data from 272 adults with chronic low back pain who were randomized to a 12-week group-based program including strenuous physical exercise, occupational therapy, and education, or a 12-week program with two hours of personal training weekly. The primary outcome measure was pain on a visual analogue scale at various points over 24 months.

The researchers found that the groups had similar improvements in pain and disability, which endured over the 24-month follow-up. The multidisciplinary group did have a significantly greater improvement on the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire and some dimensions of the MOS Short Form-36 Health Survey.

"Based on the present study, it is hard to recommend one treatment over another. The minor differences in outcomes in favor of the multidisciplinary rehabilitation program are hardly of clinical interest. The cost in terms of hours of therapist assistance per patient was higher in the intensive individual therapist-assisted strengthening back exercise program, whereas participation in the group-based multidisciplinary rehabilitation program was more time-consuming for the patients," the authors conclude.

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