Who hasn’t experienced some type of back pain? Whether it’s acute and hits suddenly, or it’s chronic and comes and goes over time, back pain is a fairly common complaint. Research fellows at the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto examined 61 studies of more than 6,000 adults with low-back pain. Results were published in the May 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine (2005; 142 [9], 765–75).

Two reviewers independently searched data on study character-istics, quality and outcomes in short, intermediate and long-term follow-ups. They found that exercise slightly decreases pain and improves function in adults with chronic low-back pain but doesn’t appear to do much for those with acute pain.

Personal fitness trainers who design targeted programs for clients with low-back pain may take confidence in what Jill Hayden, DC, the lead investigator and a research fellow at the Institute for Work & Health, said in an official press release: “When we analyzed the research, we found that the most effective strategy seems to be supervised, individually tailored exercise programs. Stretching and strengthening exercises were the most effective in improving pain and function in adults with chronic low-back pain.”