Walk away from lower back pain: U of S research

SASKATOON - The School of Physical Therapy at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) is investigating ways to help manage your low back pain.

Chronic low back pain is a highly prevalent and expensive health issue. Eighty percent of the population will describe being afflicted with it sometime in their life and about 20 per cent will develop chronic lower back pain contributing disproportionally to Canada's $12-billion in health-related costs for treatment.

"Low back pain is the most prevalent and most costly musculoskeletal disorder for society," said Stephan Milosavljevic, acting vice-dean of research in the U of S College of Medicine and principal investigator on a project funded by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation. "At any given time in Saskatchewan, it is estimated that approximately 28 out of every 100 people are experiencing low back pain."

Fortunately, exercise can play a key role in health recovery and pain management, with pedometer-driven walking particularly effective in the management of chronic health conditions. However, so far little research has specifically investigated the use of walking as a health strategy for chronic low back pain. The clinical trial developed by a team of researchers from the School of Physical Therapy and Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture is designed to test the effectiveness of a 12-week walking program compared to education-only to treat chronic low back pain.

"There is compelling evidence that exercise is an effective strategy for managing many chronic health conditions," said Milosavljevic. "Although it has yet to be determined if any type of physical activity is more beneficial than another for managing chronic disorders, it must be something people can do consistently. Walking is a fundamental human activity, an effective form of exercise, and has been found to be of tremendous benefit to those with general musculoskeletal disorders."

The research team is looking for people living in the Saskatoon region over the age of 18 who have experienced back pain at least the past three months. Participants receive two individual appointments with a physical therapist, during which they receive an evaluation of their lower back, education about back pain and exercise, and specialized advice to manage their back pain with physical activity.

"This study will contribute needed evidence about a simple, cost-effective strategy for managing chronic low back pain," said Milosavljevic. "If we are able to prove our hypothesis, we may be able to not only benefit those with chronic low back pain in the future, but also decrease associated health care costs for the individual and the health system."

If you are interested in participating, please contact study co-ordinator Angelica Lang in Saskatoon at 639-480-5595 or via email at back.research@usask.ca


For more information, please contact:
Stephan Milosavljevic
Principal Investigator
University of Saskatchewan


James Shewaga
Media Relations Specialist
University of Saskatchewan
Share this story