Exercise for the intervertebral disc : a 6-month randomised controlled trial in chronic low back pain
Owen, P. J., Miller, C. T., Rantalainen, T., Simson, K. J., Connell, D., Hahne, A. J., Trudel, G., Ford, J. J., & Belavy, D. L. (2020). Exercise for the intervertebral disc : a 6-month randomised controlled trial in chronic low back pain. European Spine Journal, 29(8), 1887-1899. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-020-06379-7
Published inEuropean Spine Journal
© 2020 Springer Nature
Background context Muscle, bone and tendon respond anabolically to mechanical forces. Whether the intervertebral disc (IVD) can benefit from exercise is unclear. Purpose To examine whether exercise can beneficially affect IVD characteristics. Study design/setting This is a single-blinded 6-month randomised controlled trial (ACTRN12615001270505) in an exercise and physiotherapy clinic. Patient sample Forty patients with chronic non-specific low back pain (NSCLBP) are included in this study. Outcome measures The primary outcome was lumbar IVD T2 time (MRI). Secondary outcomes included IVD diffusion coefficient and IVD expansion with short-duration lying. Methods Twenty patients progressively loaded their lumbar IVDs (exercise) via an exercise programme involving progressive upright aerobic and resistance exercises targeting the trunk and major muscle groups and were compared to twenty patients who performed motor control training and manual therapy (control). Testing occurred at baseline, 3 months and 6 months. Results Seventeen exercise and fifteen control patients completed the interventions. There were no group-by-time differences in T2 time of the entire IVD (exercise 94.1 ± 10.0 ms vs. control 96.5 ± 9.3 ms, p = 0.549). Exercise patients had shorter T2 time in the posterior annulus at 6 months (82.7 ± 6.8 ms vs. 85.1 ± 8.0 ms, p = 0.028). Exercise patients showed higher L5/S1 apparent diffusion coefficients and decreased IVD height at 3 months (both p ≤ 0.050). After adjustments for multiple comparisons, differences lost statistical significance. Per-protocol and intent-to-treat analyses yielded similar findings. Conclusions This trial found that 6 months of exercise did not benefit the IVD of people with NSCLBP. Based on this index study, future studies could investigate the effect of exercise on IVD in different populations, with different types, durations and/or intensities of exercise, and using different IVD markers. ...
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Additional information about fundingThis study was supported by internal institutional funding (Deakin University School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, reference number Belavy 2014–2017).
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