Background and purpose: Exercise and education is a common physiotherapy approach in the prevention of low back pain. A Mensendieck exercise programme consisting of exercises and ergonomical education has, in a previous study, been shown to be effective in preventing recurrent low back pain during one-year follow-up. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the long-term effect of the Mensendieck exercise programme on people with recurrent episodes of low back pain who, when entering the study, had finished treatment for their last episode of low back pain.
Method: A randomized controlled clinical trial in which 41 women and 36 men were allocated to either a Mensendieck or control group. The Mensendieck subjects received 20 group sessions of exercises and ergonomical education over 13 weeks. The control subjects were not offered any prophylactic therapy, but were free to receive treatment or exercises. Outcome measures were the number of recurrences of low back pain, sick leave, low back function and general functional status.
Results: At three-year follow-up, 11 subjects had been lost to the study. Survival analysis showed a significant reduction (p = 0.02) in subjects experiencing recurrent low back pain in the Mensendieck group compared to the control group. Significant improvements in pain and function scores were reported in both groups. There was no significant difference between the groups in pain, function or sick leave.
Conclusion: A Mensendieck exercise programme seems efficient in reducing recurrent episodes of low back pain at three-year follow-up, but it did not influence sick leave, pain or function scores.