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Management of Chronic Low Back Pain in Active Individuals

Mayer, John M.1; Haldeman, Scott2,3,4; Tricco, Andrea C.5; Dagenais, Simon5,6

doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e3181caa9b6
Section Articles

Chronic low back pain (LBP) is a common and potentially disabling condition in all adults, including those who are physically active. It currently is challenging for clinicians and patients to choose among the numerous treatment options. This review summarizes recommendations from recent clinical practice guidelines and systematic reviews about common primary care and secondary care approaches to the management of chronic LBP. The best available evidence currently suggests that in the absence of serious spinal pathology, nonspinal causes, or progressive or severe neurologic deficits, the management of chronic LBP should focus on patient education, self-care, common analgesics, and back exercises. Short-term pain relief may be obtained from spinal manipulative therapy or acupuncture. For patients with psychological comorbidities, adjunctive analgesics, behavioral therapy, or multidisciplinary rehabilitation also may be appropriate. Given the importance of active participation in recovery, patient preference should be sought to help select from among the recommended treatment options.

1College of Medicine and School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL; 2Department of Neurology, University of California, Irvine, CA; 3Department of Epidemiology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA; 4Research Division, Southern California University of Health Sciences, Whittier, CA; 5Palladian Health, West Seneca, NY; 6Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University at Buffalo, NY

Address for correspondence: John M. Mayer, D.C., Ph.D., University of South Florida, 12901 Bruce B Downs Blvd, MDC77, Tampa, FL 33612 (E-mail:

© 2010 American College of Sports Medicine