(HealthDay News) – An exercise regimen can improve functional status for men with chronic nonspecific low back pain (CNSLBP) without improving low back muscular morphology, according to a study published in the Dec. 15 issue of Spine.

Martin J. Willemink , MD, from St. Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegein, Netherlands, and colleagues assessed the effect of a dynamic isolated resistance-training program for the lower back muscles comprising approximately 10 sessions in 12 weeks for 16 male patients with CNSLBP. The frequency of additional training over the next 12 weeks was tailored to patient need. Lumbar magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed at baseline, at 12 weeks (T12), and after 24 weeks (T24). The patient-specific functional scale, Roland-Morris disability questionnaire, and global perceived effect scale were used to assess functional status.

The researchers identified significant and clinically relevant improvements from baseline to T12 in the Roland-Morris disability questionnaire (44%) and patient specific functional scale score (39%). There was no significant change in the scores between T12 and T24. At T12, seven participants (44%) reported clinically relevant improvements in global perceived effect, and at T24, one more patient reported an improvement and two reported worsening of their condition. Minor non-significant changes in functional cross-sectional area were seen on analysis of MRI.

“Our study shows that 10 weeks of dynamic isolated training of the lumbar extensors, once a week, leads to clinically relevant improvements in functional status of men with CNSLBP, without accompanying improvements in functional cross-sectional area of lumbar multifidus,” the authors write.

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