Sixty-two patients with chronic low back pain occurring 14-60 months after undergoing discectomy for the first time were randomized to two physical treatment groups: 24 sessions of intensive dynamic back exercises with hyperextension or 24 sessions of intensive dynamic back exercises without hyperextension.
At the conclusion of therapy and at one-year follow-up, no difference was seen between the randomized groups, with regard to the combined assessments of pain, disability and objective measurements. A difference for back exercises without hyperextension to be superior to the other treatment regimen was statistically significant at the three-month follow-up. In the patient's qualitative assessment of treatment outcome there were seen no significant differences between back exercises with or without hyperextension. There was a similar and significant improvement of the isometric endurance of back muscles in both groups, but the flexibility of the spine was significantly improved only in the group using hyperextension exercises. The overall response rate of an earlier published investigation was reproduced.
It is concluded that chronic back patients after first time discectomy may benefit from an intensive rehabilitation protocol including intensive exercises. The added use of hyperextension exercises does not confer any independent benefit. Furthermore, the training had to continue for more than 2-3 months before a statistical significant decrease in back pain was reported in the patient pain diary.
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