Specific clinical Pilates exercise programs are as effective in reducing pain and disability and improving function in adults with chronic low back pain (LBP) as are traditional general exercise programs when both are used by physiotherapists. Beneficial effects in both programs include self-reported disability, pain, function, and health-related quality of life.
Wajswelner and associates conducted a single assessor-blinded randomized controlled trial of 87 community volunteers with LBP to compare the efficacy of physiotherapy-delivered clinical Pilates and general exercise for chronic LBP. The primary outcome was pain/disability measured with the Quebec scale. Secondary outcomes included pain on a numeric rating scale, Patient-Specific Functional Scale, Pain Self-efficacy Questionnaire, quality of life, and global perceived effect of treatment.
At 6 weeks, no difference was found between groups for change in the Quebec scale; both groups showed significant improvements. Similar results were found at the 12- and 24-week follow-up and for the secondary outcome measures.
The authors noted that further research is needed to define whether there are subgroups of patients with LBP who respond better to individualized programs.