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Efficacy of Aerobic Exercise for Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain: A Meta-Analysis

Meng, Xian-Guo MD; Yue, Shou-Wei MD

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: May 2015 - Volume 94 - Issue 5 - p 358–365
doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000188
Original Research Articles

Objective A meta-analysis of relevant cohort studies was performed to investigate the efficacy of aerobic exercise for the treatment of patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP).

Method A range of electronic databases were searched: MEDLINE (1966–2013), the Cochrane Library Database (issue 12, 2013), EMBASE (1980–2013), CINAHL (1982–2013), Web of Science (1945∼2013), and the Chinese Biomedical Database (1982–2013), without language restrictions. The Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire, the Oswestry Disability Questionnaire, the McGill Pain Questionnaire, visual analog scale, and heart rate, sit-and-reach test, and maximum oxygen consumption were used to evaluate the efficacy of aerobic exercise. Meta-analysis was performed with the use of the STATA statistical software. The standardized mean difference (SMD) with its corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI) was calculated. Eight clinical cohort studies with a total of 310 CLBP patients were included in the meta-analysis.

Results The results of this meta-analysis indicated that CLBP patients exhibited positive decreases in scores on the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (SMD, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.20–0.68; P < 0.001), Oswestry Disability Questionnaire (SMD, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.67–1.39; P < 0.001), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (SMD, 1.35; 95% CI, 0.34–2.37; P = 0.009), and McGill Pain Questionnaire (SMD, 0.32; 95% CI, 0.07–0.56; P = 0.011) after aerobic exercise. It was also observed that aerobic exercise could markedly reduce the visual analog scale score for pain of CLBP patients (SMD, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.48–1.02; P < 0.001). Nevertheless, this study’s findings showed that aerobic exercise had no effects on heart rate, sit-and-reach test, and maximum oxygen consumption of CLBP patients (all P > 0.05).

Conclusion The current meta-analysis provides reliable evidence that aerobic exercise could effectively diminish pain intensity and improve the physical and psychologic functioning of CLBP patients. Thus, aerobic exercise may be a good choice in the treatment for CLBP.

Supplemental digital content is available in the text.

From the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, QiLu Hospital, Shandong University, Jinan, P.R. China (X-GM, S-WY); and Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Shandong Medical College, Jinan, P.R. China (X-GM).

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to: Xian-Guo Meng, MD, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, QiLu Hospital, Shandong University, Jinan 250012, P.R. China; and Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Shandong Medical College, 5460, South-Second Ring Road, Jinan 250002, P.R. China.

Funded by A Project of Shandong Province Higher Educational Science and Technology Program (No. J10LF87). Financial disclosure statements have been obtained, and no conflicts of interest have been reported by the authors or by any individuals in control of the content of this article.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal’s Web site (www.ajpmr.com).

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