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A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Exercise Therapy in Patients with Acute Low Back Pain

Faas, A., MD*; Chavannes, A. W., MD; van Eijk, J. Th.M., PhD*; Gubbels, J. W.

A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Exercise Therapy in Patients with Acute Low Back Pain: PDF Only

To assess the efficacy of exercise therapy for acute low back pain, a randomized, placebo-controlled trial was performed in 40 Dutch general practices. Patients received either exercise instruction with advice for daily life by a physiotherapist; placebo ultrasound therapy by a physiotherapist; or usual care by the general practitioner. All patients received analgesic agents and information on low back pain before randomization. Four hundred seventy-three patients were included. No differences in number of recurrences, functional health status, or medical care usage could be found among the three groups. In the exercise group, duration of recurrences was shorter and patients were less tired during the first 3 months than in the usual care group, but no differences were found between the exercise and placebo groups. It was concluded that exercise therapy for patients with acute low back pain has no advantage over usual care from the general practitioner.

*From the Department of General Practice and Nursing Home Medicine, Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Amsterdam, Department of General Practice, University of Utrecht, Utrecht, and Department of Methodology and Statistics, University of Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. This study was initiated by the Dutch College of General Practitioners and was supported by the Praeventie Fonds. We thank Prof L.M. Bouter and Prof M. de Haan for editorial comments.

Accepted for publication March 29, 1993.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.