A randomized trial of walking versus physical methods for chronic pain management

Aging (Milano). Feb-Apr 1997;9(1-2):99-105. doi: 10.1007/BF03340134.


We conducted a pilot study to evaluate a practical exercise program for elderly people with chronic musculo-skeletal pain. Thirty-three subjects (mean age, 73 years; 69% back pain; 24% knee pain; 9% hip pain) were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Group 1 received 6-week supervised program of walking. Group 2 received a pain education program that included instruction and demonstration of use of heat, cold, massage, relaxation and distraction. Group 3 received usual care. Outcomes including pain, self-reported health and functional status, and performance-based measures of functional status were evaluated at baseline, at two weeks and at eight weeks (end of study). Attendance was 100% for the education sessions and 93% for walking sessions. No injuries were sustained. Both intervention groups demonstrated significant improvements in pain (p < 0.05) and performance-based measures of functional status (p < 0.05), while the control group had no changes. These data suggest that patient education and fitness walking can improve overall pain management and related functional limitations among elderly people with chronic musculo-skeletal pain.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Back Pain / therapy
  • Chronic Disease
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Foot
  • Hip Joint
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint
  • Pain Management*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Walking*