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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Rest versus exercise as treatment for patients with low back pain and Modic changes. a randomized controlled clinical trial

Rikke K Jensen12*, Charlotte Leboeuf-Yde12, Niels Wedderkopp12, Joan S Sorensen1 and Claus Manniche12

Author affiliations

1 Research Department, Spine Centre of Southern Denmark, Hospital Lillebaelt, Oestre Hougvej 55, 5500 Middelfart, Denmark

2 Institute of Regional Health Services Research, University of Southern Denmark, Winsloewparken 19.3, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

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Citation and License

BMC Medicine 2012, 10:22  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-22

Published: 29 February 2012

Abstract

Background

Clinical experience suggests that many patients with Modic changes have relatively severe and persistent low back pain (LBP), which typically appears to be resistant to treatment. Exercise therapy is the recommended treatment for chronic LBP, however, due to their underlying pathology, Modic changes might be a diagnostic subgroup that does not benefit from exercise. The objective of this study was to compare the current state-of-the art treatment approach (exercise and staying active) with a new approach (load reduction and daily rest) for people with Modic changes using a randomized controlled trial design.

Methods

Participants were patients from an outpatient clinic with persistent LBP and Modic changes. They were allocated using minimization to either rest therapy for 10 weeks with a recommendation to rest for two hours daily and the option of using a flexible lumbar belt or exercise therapy once a week for 10 weeks. Follow-up was at 10 weeks after recruitment and 52 weeks after intervention and the clinical outcome measures were pain, disability, general health and global assessment, supplemented by weekly information on low back problems and sick leave measured by short text message (SMS) tracking.

Results

In total, 100 patients were included in the study. Data on 87 patients at 10 weeks and 96 patients at one-year follow-up were available and were used in the intention-to-treat analysis. No statistically significant differences were found between the two intervention groups on any outcome.

Conclusions

No differences were found between the two treatment approaches, 'rest and reduced load' and 'exercise and staying active', in patients with persistent LBP and Modic changes.

Trial Registration

ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00454792