Non-specific low back pain is one of the most common and consulted pathologies in every doctor’s office.
From a primary care provider, orthopedist or even chiropractic consult; back pain is a very common problem all over the world. Eight out of ten North Americans are
going to have problems of back pain and more than 30.2% of those patients are women, with the higher prevalence being located in adult, post-menopausal women.
Low back pain is a difficult symptom to treat, it brings many physicians to the crossroad of having to select an appropriate treatment, when even the most complete guidelines sometimes do not give the correct answer.
Because of this many patients end up using and abusing over-the-counter medicines without any proper indication to find a way to alleviate pain, but as with any medicine there are many undesirable side effects such as gastritis, bleeding, renal failure and even hepatotoxicity (liver poison).
Low back pain is a challenge for every physician, and many have opted along with the patient to search for an alternative way to confront the challenge of managing low back pain, from acupuncture to lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity but there is conflicting data on the association between low back pain symptoms and physical activity, for instance the DAMA trial; a study that aimed to assess and evaluate the ability of a 24-month intervention, with moderate-intensity physical activity, and/or dietary modification in postmenopausal women.The participants endured a 1 hour/day of moderate physical activity and once a week more strenuous activity, it also included collective walks and meetings to discuss problems and solutions for the issue that is back pain.
A self-administered back pain questionnaire was taken at the beginning and at the end of the study, This questionnaire was structured to investigate the occurrence of musculoskeletal pain, localization of the pain, and the intensity and duration of the pain. 102 participants undergone the physical activity intervention, and 108 did not, both groups filled out the questionnaires. At the beginning low back pain was present in 32.9% of the participants. Those women who underwent the physical activity intervention, low back pain was present at follow up in 21.6% of the cases, versus the 32.9% of the beginning (p = 0.02), while in the women who did not receive the physical activity intervention the low back pain presence at the beginning and at the end of the trial were 32.4% and 25.9%, respectively (p = 0.30).
Overall, there was no statistically significant difference between both groups on physical activity intervention on low back pain, which in no way means that physical activity is not working for the management of it, the true outcome of this study is that there are many ways in which patients can deal with their low back pain issues; physical activity is one of them but more studies are needed to understand the role of physical activity intervention on low back pain prevalence and how it can be modified to be presented as a more definitive solution.