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Physical activity and low back pain: A critical narrative review.

BACKGROUND: Non-specific low back pain (LBP) is the leading cause of years lived with disability worldwide. Physical activity is an integral part of LBP treatment.

OBJECTIVE: To critically review available evidence regarding the efficacy of physical activity for people with LBP.

METHODS: Up to date critical narrative review of the efficacy of physical activity for the managment LBP. The process of article selection was unsystematic; articles were selected based on authors' expertise, self-knowledge and reflective practice.

RESULTS: Therapeutic physical activity for LBP includes a wide range of non-specific and specific activities. The efficacy of physical activity on pain and activity limitations has been widely assessed. In acute and subacute LBP, exercise did not reduce pain compared to no exercise. In chronic low back pain (CLBP), exercise reduced pain at the earliest follow-up compared with no exercise. In a recent systematic review, exercise improved function both at the end of treatment and in the long-term compared with usual care. Exercice also reduced work disability in the long-term. We were unable to establish a clear hierarchy between different exercise modalities. Multidisciplinary functional programs consistently improved pain and function in the short- and long-term compared with usual care and physiotherapy and improved the long-term likelihood of returning to work compared to non-multidisciplinary programs.

CONCLUSION: Physical activity of all types is an effective treatment for CLBP.

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