Effectiveness of Back School program versus hydrotherapy in elderly patients with chronic non-specific low back pain: a randomized clinical trial

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Cosimo Costantino
Davide Romiti


Low back pain, Chronic non-specific low back pain, elderly patients, physiotherapy, Back School program, Hydrotherapy


Background and aim of the work: Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is a major cause of disability, for which clinical practice guidelines suggest exercise programs, such as Back School program (stretching and selective muscle reinforcement techniques) and Hydrotherapy technique, as an effective treatment to reduce pain intensity and disability. Methods: We enrolled 56 elderly individuals, affected by non-specific CLBP, whose pain had worsened in the last three months, which were randomly allocated to Back School (group A) or to Hydrotherapy program (group B). Each group underwent two one-hour-treatment sessions per week, over a 12-week period. Each patient was evaluated using the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) and the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) V2.0 at the beginning (T0), at the end of treatment (T1) and at the 3-month follow-up (T2). Results: At T1 and T2 we observed a highly significant statistical difference in the values measured  in both groups: at T1 in group A RMDQ improvement of 3.26±1.02 (p<0.001) and SF-36 of 13.30±1.44 (p<0.001); in group B RMDQ improvement of 4.96±0.71 (p<0.001) and SF-36 of 14.19±1.98 (p<0.001). We have also evaluated the difference in effectiveness of the two programs and no significant statistical differences were found between the two groups. Conclusions: Back School program and Hydrotherapy could be valid treatment options in the rehabilitation of non-specific CLBP in elderly people. Both therapies proved to be effective and can be used in association with other rehabilitation programs. We believe that Back School program should be favored for its simplicity and the small number of resources required.



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