Low back pain is a major cause of adult disability. The condition can occur to a variety of factors such as incorrect posture, muscle imbalances, sudden falls/injuries, heavy/strenuous work, and obesity. Medical conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, spinal stenosis and sciatica also cause back pain.
Research continues to take place worldwide to understand this complex medical condition. According to a recently published Cochrane Review, targeting physical exercises to muscles that support and control the spine may help to reduce low back pain and the disability associated with it.
Generally, motor control exercises are performed to improve coordination of the muscles that control and support the spine. Physical therapists first guide patients to practice simple tasks, and as their skill increases, help them initiate more complex exercises that include functional tasks necessary to perform work/leisure activities.
This new study was based on data collected from 29 randomized trials involving a total of 2,431 men and women between the ages of 22 and 55. The trials assessed the feasibility of using motor control exercises as a treatment for back pain as against other forms of exercise or doing nothing.
The study found that, when compared with minimal intervention, people who used motor control exercises experienced significant improvements in areas of pain and disability. Also, when a similar comparison was made with other types of exercise at gaps between 3 and 12 months, motor control exercises showed similar results for pain and disability.
At leading healthcare centers, patients are guided in performing motor control exercises and general exercises by experienced physical therapists. The new study suggests that motor control exercises, which improve the strength and coordination of muscles, offers an alternative approach to treating low back pain. However, the researchers concede that they are not aware about how motor control exercise can be compared with other forms of exercise in the long term, and that further study is required to help patients make more informed choices about continuing treatment.