Which specific modes of exercise training are most effective for treating low back pain? Network meta-analysis

Review written by Dr Mary O'Keeffe info

Key Points

  1. Exercise is a recommended treatment for chronic low back pain (CLBP). Current guidelines state that no one type of exercise is superior to another, and all have small to modest effects on pain and disability.
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A network meta-analysis published this year in the British Journal of Sports Medicine aimed to determine what is the most effective type of exercise for individuals with chronic low back pain (CLBP), in terms of pain, disability, and mental health. This is an important topic for physiotherapists as exercise is a mainstay treatment for chronic low back pain.

Accordingly, this review sought to determine whether some types of exercise are better than others for improving pain, function, and mental health among individuals with CLBP.

Exercise is a mainstay treatment for chronic low back pain.
Instead of focussing on the type of exercise for LBP, we should focus our efforts on getting people to do more of any exercise, and on strategies to help individuals stick with exercise over time.


The authors conducted a network meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. They searched five electronic databases from inception to May 2019 to locate potentially relevant studies. There were no language restrictions. The quality of the evidence was assessed using the Grading

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