Light physical conditioning programmes for workers with back pain

NICE Quality and Productivity Case Studies
Queen's University Belfast
Publication date:
26 October 2011


NICE summary of review conclusions

Evidence shows that light physical conditioning programs are not effective and should not be used

Reducing or stopping light physical conditioning programs for workers with back pain is likely to have miminal impact on the quality of patient care in the NHS but is likely to result in productivity savings.

The Implications for practice section of the Cochrane review stated:

For workers with acute back pain a physical conditioning program is not effective in reducing sickness absence duration. Light physical conditioning programs do not reduce sickness absence in workers with subacute nor with chronic back pain. There is conflicting evidence regarding the effectiveness of intense physical conditioning program versus usual care for workers with subacute back pain. It might be that including workplace visits or execution of the intervention at the workplace is the component that renders a physical conditioning programme effective. For workers with chronic back pain, there is moderate quality evidence that intense physical conditioning programs have a small but significant effect on sickness absence compared to care as usual. There is conflicting evidence on the effect of intense physical conditioning programs versus exercise therapy for workers with chronic back pain.