Exercise helps chronic low back pain

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 1, 2005

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A program of gradually increasing physical activity can decrease pain, improve function and reduce work absenteeism for those with chronic low back pain, according to a review of the evidence published in the July issue of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. No such evidence was found to support this strategy for acute cases.

"The accumulated evidence supports a sea change that has occurred in medicine, away from recommending prolonged bed rest and activity restriction," said Michael Von Korff, ScD, senior investigator at the Center for Health Studies in Seattle.

In a related paper, reviewers also failed to find any evidence to support the use of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation -- TENS -- even though it is widely used for this condition.

"There may be some place for TENS as a component of treatment for people with chronic low back pain, but there is no evidence on which to base the conclusion that is useful as a solo modality for this population," said Dennis C. Turk, PhD, professor of anesthesiology and pain research at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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