Exercise prescription variables predict reductions in pain intensity in adults with chronic low back pain: secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial

Christopher Neason, Clint T. Miller, Scott D. Tagliaferri, Daniel L. Belavy, Luana C. Main, Jon J. Ford, Andrew J. Hahne, Steven J. Bowe, Patrick J. Owen

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Objectives The relationship between exercise training variables and clinical outcomes in low back pain (LBP) is unclear. The current study aimed to explore the relationship between exercise training parameters and pain intensity in individuals with chronic LBP. Methods This study is a secondary analysis of a previously reported randomised controlled trial comparing the effects of general strength and conditioning to motor control exercises and manual therapy. This secondary analysis includes adults with chronic LBP (n=20) randomised to the general strength and conditioning programme only. Primary outcomes of this analysis were exercise training parameters (time under tension, rating of perceived exertion (RPE), session duration, session-RPE and training frequency) and pain intensity (0-100 mm visual analogue acale) measured every 2 weeks from baseline to 6 months follow-up. Linear mixed models with random effects (participants) and allowance for heterogeneity of variance (study date) were used to determine the association between pain intensity and training parameters over time. Results Mean (95% CI) pain intensity decreased over time from baseline to 6 months follow-up by 10.7 (2.8 to 18.7) points (p=0.008). Over the 6-month intervention, lower pain intensity was associated with higher RPE (β (95% CI) -27.168 (-44.265 to -10.071), p=0.002), greater time under tension (-0.029 (-0.056 to -0.001), p=0.040) and shorter session duration (1.938 (0.011 to 3.865), p=0.049). Conclusion During 6 months of general strength and conditioning, lower pain intensity was associated with higher participant-reported training intensity, greater volume and shorter session duration. To ensure positive outcomes to exercise training, these variables should be monitored on a short-term basis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001744
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes

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