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Treating low back pain in athletes: a systematic review with meta-analysis


Thornton, JS and Caneiro, JP and Hartvigsen, J and Ardern, CL and Vinther, A and Wilkie, K and Trease, L and Ackerman, KE and Dane, K and McDonnell, S-J and Mockler, D and Gissane, C and Wilson, F, Treating low back pain in athletes: a systematic review with meta-analysis, British Journal of Sports Medicine, 55, (12) pp. 656-662. ISSN 0306-3674 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2020 Author(s) (or their employer(s)

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DOI: doi:10.1136/bjsports-2020-102723


Objective: To summarise the evidence for non-pharmacological management of low back pain (LBP) in athletes, a common problem in sport that can negatively impact performance and contribute to early retirement.

Data sources: Five databases (EMBASE, Medline, CINAHL, Web of Science, Scopus) were searched from inception to September 2020. The main outcomes of interest were pain, disability and return to sport (RTS).

Results: Among 1629 references, 14 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) involving 541 athletes were included. The trials had biases across multiple domains including performance, attrition and reporting. Treatments included exercise, biomechanical modifications and manual therapy. There were no trials evaluating the efficacy of surgery or injections. Exercise was the most frequently investigated treatment; no RTS data were reported for any exercise intervention. There was a reduction in pain and disability reported after all treatments.

Conclusions: While several treatments for LBP in athletes improved pain and function, it was unclear what the most effective treatments were, and for whom. Exercise approaches generally reduced pain and improved function in athletes with LBP, but the effect on RTS is unknown. No conclusions regarding the value of manual therapy (massage, spinal manipulation) or biomechanical modifications alone could be drawn because of insufficient evidence. High-quality RCTs are urgently needed to determine the effect of commonly used interventions in treating LBP in athletes.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:athlete, injuries, lower back, sport, treatment
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Clinical sciences
Research Field:Sports medicine
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Diagnosis of human diseases and conditions
UTAS Author:Trease, L (Dr Larissa Trease)
ID Code:142227
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2020-12-23
Last Modified:2021-09-29

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