A paucity of information exists concerning the exact role of exercise in the management of low back pain. Few controlled clinical studies exist, and the selection of an exercise program is often relegated to traditional or empiric regimens. Aerobic conditioning exercises appear to offer the greatest benefit for all types of patients with back problems, although the value of these exercises is often overstated. Indirect evidence can be found for strengthening exercises that treat physical incapacity. No information is available to substantiate effects on pain relief. Comprehensive electromyographic studies, biomechanical analyses, and controlled clinical studies are needed to validate the role of exercises in the treatment of patients with back pain.
* Adjunct Faculty, Program in Physical Therapy, School of Education and Allied Professions, University of Miami and Director, University of Miami Orthopaedic Back Education Unit.
** Professor, Departments of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and Neurological Surgery, University of Miami School of Medicine and Director, Spine Clinic, Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, University of Miami School of Medicine.