Rackwitz, Berid; Bie, Rob de; Limm, Heribert; Garnier, Katharina von; Ewert, Thomas; Stucki, Gerold
Segmental stabilizing exercises and low back pain: What is the evidence? A systematic review of randomized controlled trials.
In: Clinical Rehabilitation, Vol. 20, No. 7: pp. 553-567
Study design: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials.
Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of segmental stabilizing exercises for
acute, subacute and chronic low back pain with regard to pain, recurrence of pain,
disability and return to work.
Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, PEDro
and article reference lists were searched from 1988 onward. Randomized controlled
trials with segmental stabilizing exercises for adult low back pain patients were
included. Four comparisons were foreseen: (1) effectiveness of segmental stabilizing
exercises versus treatment by general practitioner (GP); (2) effectiveness of
segmental stabilizing exercises versus other physiotherapy treatment; (3)
effectiveness of segmental stabilizing exercises combined with other physiotherapy
treatment versus treatment by GP and (4) effectiveness of segmental stabilizing
exercises combined with other physiotherapy treatment versus other physiotherapy
Results: Seven trials were included. For acute low back pain, segmental stabilizing
exercises are equally effective in reducing short-term disability and pain and more
effective in reducing long-term recurrence of low back pain than treatment by GP.
For chronic low back pain, segmental stabilizing exercises are, in the short and long
term, more effective than GP treatment and may be as effective as other
physiotherapy treatments in reducing disability and pain. There is limited evidence
that segmental stabilizing exercises additional to other physiotherapy treatment are
equally effective for pain and more effective concerning disability than other
physiotherapy treatments alone. There is no evidence concerning subacute low back
Conclusion: For low back pain, segmental stabilizing exercises are more effective
than treatment by GP but they are not more effective than other physiotherapy