Aim: We performed a systematic review with a meta-analysis to examine the efficacy of stabilization exercises versus general exercises or manual therapy in patients with low back pain.
Design: We searched MEDLINE, Cochrane Controlled Trials, Scielo, and CINAHL (from the earliest date available to November 2014) for randomized controlled trials that examined the efficacy of stabilization exercises compared to general exercises or manual therapy on pain, disability, and function in patients with low back pain. Weighted mean differences (WMD) and 95% confidence intervals were calculated.
Results: Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria (413 stabilization exercises patients, 297 general exercises patients, and 185 manual therapy patients). Stabilization exercises may provide greater benefit than general exercise for pain reduction and improvement in disability. Stabilization exercise improved pain with a WMD of -1.03 (95% CI: -1.29 to -0.27) and improved disability with a WMD of -5.41 (95% CI: -8.34 to -2.49). There were no significant differences in pain and disability scores among participants in the stabilization exercise group compared to those in the manual therapy group.
Conclusions: Stabilization exercises were as efficacious as manual therapy in decreasing pain and disability and should be encouraged as part of musculoskeletal rehabilitation for low back pain.
Keywords: Disability; Low back pain; Meta-analysis; Stabilization exercises.
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