A tailored exercise program versus general exercise for a subgroup of patients with low back pain and movement control impairment: Short-term results of a randomised controlled trial

J. Saner*, Judith M. Sieben, J. Kool, H. Luomajoki, Caroline H.G. Bastiaenen, Rob A. de Bie

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Exercise is an effective treatment for patients with sub-acute and chronic low back pain (LBP). Patients with a movement control impairment (MCI) can be diagnosed as a subgroup of patients with LBP. Unknown is which exercise intervention is most beneficial for this subgroup.

This study assessed the short-term effect of a specific exercise program targeting movement control impairment versus general exercise treatment on disability in patients with LBP and MCI.

Methods: In a multicentre parallel group randomised controlled pragmatic trial, patients with sub-acute and chronic LBP were included. Further inclusion criteria were disability of >= 5 points on the RolandeMorris Disability Questionnaire and >= 2 positive tests out of a set of 6 movement control impairment tests.

A total of 106 patients were randomly assigned to either tailored movement control exercise intervention (MC, n = 52) or a general exercise intervention (GE, n = 54); both 9-18 individual treatment sessions, over a maximum of 12 weeks. The primary outcome was disability measured with the Patient Specific Functional scale (PSFS). Secondary outcome was the Roland -Morris disability scale (RMDQ). Measurements were taken pre- and posttreatment.

Results: No significant difference was found following the treatment period. Baseline-adjusted between-group mean difference for the PSFS was 0.5 (SD = 0.5; p = 0.32) in favour of MC exercises. The Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire revealed a significant, but not clinically relevant, between-group difference of 2.0 points (SD = 0.8; p = 0.01).

Conclusion: Disability in LBP patients was reduced considerably by both interventions. However, the limited contrast between the two exercise programs may have influenced outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-202
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


  • Randomised controlled trial
  • Movement control impairment
  • Exercise
  • Low back pain
  • Clinical trial
  • Posture
  • Rehabilitation
  • Patient specific functional scale

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