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Physiother Res Int. 2007 Dec;12(4):213-24.

Effectiveness of a home exercise programme in low back pain: a randomized five-year follow-up study.

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School of Health and Social Studies, Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, Jyväskylä, Finland.



Therapeutic exercise has been shown to be beneficial in decreasing pain and in increasing functioning in patients with chronic low back pain. However, longitudinal follow-up studies are small in number, and often limited in the numbers of subjects due to drop-outs. In addition there is a shortage of real control groups in most cases. The purpose of the present study was to describe long-term changes in intensity of low back pain and in functioning for two study groups five years after undertaking a home exercise programme.


This was a randomized follow-up study over five years. Fifty-seven subjects were reassessed with questionnaires five years after their initial recruitment for an intervention study. A home exercise group (n = 29), with training once a day, and a control group (n = 28), without exercise, were included in the present study protocol. The primary outcome measurements included a questionnaire on the intensity of low back pain (Borg CR-10 scale) and on functioning (Oswestry Disability Index; ODI). The confounding physical activity was controlled with metabolic unit (MET) values.


The CR-10 and ODI scores decreased during the first three months in both study groups. During the follow-ups, the corresponding indicators of the home exercise group remained below baseline values. The CR-10 score was significantly lower in the home exercise group (p = 0.01) during the last five-year follow-up session compared with the control group. Overall physical activity decreased slightly during the five-year follow-up, but there were no differences between the two study groups.


The present randomized study indicates that supervised, controlled home exercises lead to reduced low back pain, and that positive effects were preserved over five years.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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