Self-Management of Low Back Pain Has Small Effects

Meta-analysis of moderate-quality evidence shows small effects on pain, disability

THURSDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Self-management of low back pain (LBP) has only small effects on pain and disability, according to the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the November issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

Vinicius C. Oliveira, of the University of Sydney in Australia, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of the literature and meta-analysis of 13 identified randomized controlled trials in an effort to determine the effectiveness of self-management for nonspecific LBP.

The researchers found that, based on moderate-quality evidence, self-management was effective for improving pain and disability in patients with LBP. However, the effects were small, with short-term (less than six months after randomization) improvements of 3.2 and 2.3 points for pain and disability, respectively, on a 100-point scale. Over the long term (at least 12 months after randomization), pain improved by 4.8 points and disability improved by 2.1 points.

"There is moderate-quality evidence that self-management has small effects on pain and disability in people with LBP," the authors write. "Although effective when compared to minimal intervention, we are unsure if self-management provides worthwhile effects in the management of LBP. This result challenges the endorsement of self-management in treatment guidelines."

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