Rest versus exercise: Equally effective on lower back pain

February 28, 2012, BioMed Central

Lower back pain due to Modic changes can be hard to treat and the currently recommended therapy of exercise and staying active often does not help alleviate the pain. Results of a trial, published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine, comparing exercise therapy, and staying active, to daily rest and lumbar support, showed that both treatments resulted in the same small level of improvement in pain, disability, and general health.

Modic changes (MC) in the spine, where the bone marrow is infiltrated by serum (fluid), , or by sclerosis, can only be seen using (MRI). It has been suggested that these MC, associated with non-muscular , are caused by and therefore might be more responsive to rest than to exercise. This study, based at the Spine Centre of Southern Denmark, was designed to treat patients for a 10 week trial (with follow up after one year). It consisted of either two hours rest a day, and wearing a lumbar support to help reduce load on the spine, or , once a week, supplemented by active living.

The study measured levels of pain, disability, general health, depression and the number of patients achieving a minimum clinically important improvement in their condition. Patients also reported any back problems or sick leave in weekly text messages (SMS). The team led by Rikke K Jensen found no differences for any of the makers between the two groups at either the 10 week or the year catch up. Similarly there was no difference in the course of the disease between the two groups.

It is also well known that a moderate amount of exercise is beneficial to general physical and mental health so perhaps the improvements seen for both groups were due to the patient 'taking control' of their disease rather than the treatment itself. Mrs Jensen countered, "It seems possible however, since lower back pain for these patients did not improve more with rest than exercise, that the MC itself might not be causing pain, that two hours of rest a day was not enough, or that different types of MC may respond better than others to rest. Further studies into these unexpected results will help us identify who will respond best to which treatment."

Explore further: Exercise produces positive effects on the intervertebral discs

More information: Rest versus exercise as treatment for patients with low back pain and Modic changes. A randomised controlled clinical trial. Rikke K Jensen, Charlotte Leboeuf-Yde, Niels Wedderkopp, Joan S Sorensen and Claus Manniche, BMC Medicine (in press)

Related Stories

Exercise produces positive effects on the intervertebral discs

June 28, 2011
Physical exercise has a positive effect on the formation of cells in the intervertebral discs. This is shown by a study from the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, presented at the annual meeting of the International ...

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.