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Papers: 30 Jul 2022 - 5 Aug 2022


2022 Jul 29

J Pain

Individualized exercise in chronic non-specific low back pain: a systematic review with meta-analysis on the effects of exercise alone or in combination with psychological interventions on pain and disability.


This systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression investigated the effects of individualized interventions, based on exercise alone or combined with psychological treatment, on pain intensity and disability in patients with chronic non-specific low-back-pain. Databases were searched up to 31 January 2022 and to retrieve respective randomized controlled trials of individualized/personalized/stratified exercise interventions with or without psychological treatment compared to any control. Fifty-eight studies (n = 10084) were included. At short-term follow-up (12 weeks), low-certainty evidence for pain intensity (SMD -0.28 [95%CI -0.42 to -0.14]) and very low-certainty evidence for disability (-0.17 [-0.31 to -0.02]) indicates effects of individualized versus active exercises, and very low-certainty evidence for pain intensity (-0.40; [-0.58 to -0.22])), but not (low-certainty evidence) for disability (-0.18; [-0.22 to 0.01]) compared to passive controls. At long-term follow-up (1 year), moderate-certainty evidence for pain intensity (-0.14 [-0.22 to -0.07]) and disability (-0.20 [-0.30 to -0.10]) indicates effects versus passive controls. Sensitivity analyses indicates that the effects on pain, but not on disability (always short-term and versus active treatments) were robust. Pain reduction caused by individualized exercise treatments in combination with psychological interventions (in particular behavioral-cognitive therapies) (-0.28 [-0.42 to -0.14], low certainty) is of clinical importance. Certainty of evidence was downgraded mainly due to evidence of risk of bias, publication bias and inconsistency that could not be explained. Individualized exercise can treat pain and disability in chronic non-specific low-back-pain. The effects at short term are of clinical importance (relative differences versus active 38% and versus passive interventions 77%), especially in regard to the little extra effort to individualize exercise. Sub-group analysis suggests a combination of individualized exercise (especially motor-control based treatments) with behavioral therapy interventions to booster effects. PROSPERO registration: CRD42021247331.