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A four-week home-based exercise programme is effective in treating subacute low back pain in adults

M.J. Lumb
L Lategan


Background: Low back pain (LBP) is a prevalent condition affecting a large portion of the population worldwide and it is one of the leading causes of morbidity and work absenteeism.

Objectives: To investigate the effectiveness of a four-week, home-based exercise programme in treating subacute LBP in adults.

Methods: A quantitative experimental research design was used. Twenty male and female adults (between 18 and 65 years) with subacute LBP were recruited by means of advertisements and word of mouth and allocated into either a control group (CG) or a home-based exercise group (HG). Both groups underwent a pre-test that consisted of answering two questionnaires, the Visual Analogue Scale for Pain (VASP) and the Oswestry Low Back Pain and Disability Questionnaire. The CG received no intervention over the fourweek intervention period, while the intervention group (HG) was given an exercise programme and instructed to perform the exercises at home, three times a week for four weeks. After four weeks (post-test), the two questionnaires were repeated. After eight weeks (the follow-up test) both groups again completed the two questionnaires. Descriptive statistics, nonparametric inferential statistics and Cohen’s effect size (d) were used to analyse the data and statistical significance was set at a confidence level of 95% (p≤0.05).

Results: Following the home-based exercise intervention there were significant improvements observed in low back pain and function for the HG. The HG’s Oswestry scores improved significantly (p=0.005) and their VASP also showed a significant improvement (p=0.011). Significant improvements also occurred between the pre-test and fourweek follow-up for the HG’s Oswestry score (p=0.021) and for the HG’s VASP (p=0.005). No significant improvement was found for the CG between pretest and post-test or between pretest and the four-week follow-up. Large effect sizes (d>0.8) were also observed for the HG between the pretest and the post-test (d=1.6), as well as between the HG and the CG at post-test (d=1.5) and at the four-week follow-up (d=1.6).

Conclusion: The exercise intervention resulted in statistically significant and clinically significant improvements in both function and pain in adults with subacute LBP.

Keywords: musculoskeletal rehabilitation, spine, function, movement

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2078-516X
print ISSN: 1015-5163