PainSci summary of O’Sullivan 1997?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.
Forty-four patients chronic low back pain where the anatomic stability of the spine was compromised were divided into two groups: one group did core stability training for ten weeks, and the other did not. While the group that did nothing remained unchanged, the group that exercised “showed a statistically significant reduction in pain intensity and functional disability levels, which was maintained at a 30-month follow-up.” The authors did not specify in their abstract how much of a statistically significant reduction, so it was probably small. (When researchers find a good-sized effect, they invariably emphasize it. If they don’t, you can pretty much guarantee it was nothing to write home about.)
It’s important to note that these patients had structurally unsound spines, however, which is not the case in many other cases of chronic low back pain. Indeed, it is quite a different clinical situation than most chronic low back pain.
original abstract†Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
STUDY DESIGN: A randomized, controlled trial, test--retest design, with a 3-, 6-, and 30-month postal questionnaire follow-up.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the efficacy of a specific exercise intervention in the treatment of patients with chronic low back pain and a radiologic diagnosis of spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis.
SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: A recent focus in the physiotherapy management of patients with back pain has been the specific training of muscles surrounding the spine (deep abdominal muscles and lumbar multifidus), considered to provide dynamic stability and fine control to the lumbar spine. In no study have researchers evaluated the efficacy of this intervention in a population with chronic low back pain where the anatomic stability of the spine was compromised.
METHODS: Forty-four patients with this condition were assigned randomly to two treatment groups. The first group underwent a 10-week specific exercise treatment program involving the specific training of the deep abdominal muscles, with co-activation of the lumbar multifidus proximal to the pars defects. The activation of these muscles was incorporated into previously aggravating static postures and functional tasks. The control group underwent treatment as directed by their treating practitioner.
RESULTS: After intervention, the specific exercise group showed a statistically significant reduction in pain intensity and functional disability levels, which was maintained at a 30-month follow-up. The control group showed no significant change in these parameters after intervention or at follow-up.
SUMMARY: A “specific exercise” treatment approach appears more effective than other commonly prescribed conservative treatment programs in patients with chronically symptomatic spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis.
One article on PainScience.com cites O’Sullivan 1997 as a source:
- PS Save Yourself from Low Back Pain! — Low back pain myths debunked and all your treatment options reviewed
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
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- The neck and headaches. Bogduk 2014 Neurol Clin.
- Agreement of self-reported items and clinically assessed nerve root involvement (or sciatica) in a primary care setting. Konstantinou 2012 Eur Spine J.
- Effect of NSAIDs on Recovery From Acute Skeletal Muscle Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Morelli 2017 Am J Sports Med.