Exercise ’should be more widely used for back pain’

Exercise can target back painExercise is currently an underutilized remedy for chronic low back and neck pain, researchers claim.

In a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, scientists at the University of North Carolina found that there is a lack of knowledge about prescribing exercise for pain.

The researchers surveyed nearly 700 people with chronic back or neck pain who had visited a doctor, chiropractor or physical therapist during the previous 12 months.

They discovered that less than 50 percent of the participants had been prescribed exercise. People who had seen a physical therapist were the most likely to have had physical activity recommended to them.

Physical therapists were also more likely to supervise patients’ activity, as well as prescribe stretching and strengthening exercises.

According to the authors, exercise is “one of the few moderately effective therapies for the highly disabling illness of chronic back and neck pain.”

The findings suggest exercise should be among the resources that doctors regularly prescribe for chronic pain.

Previous research published online in the British Medical Journal found that the Alexander Method could also be beneficial for back and neck pain.