Authors' Affiliations

Department of Family Medicine, ETSU Family Physicians of Kingsport, Kingsport, TN

Faculty Sponsor’s Department

Family Medicine

Name of Project's Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Gary Michael

Additional Sponsors

Sarah Hewitt

Type

Poster: Competitive

Classification of First Author

Medical Resident or Clinical Fellow

Project's Category

Musculoskeletal System, Chronic Pain, Ambulatory Care

Abstract Text

Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is defined as pain, muscle tension, or stiffness localized below the costal margin and above the inferior gluteal folds, with or without sciatica, that lasts for at least twelve weeks.1 It is the leading cause of disability and loss of productivity in the United States.2 There is conflicting evidence on what is the most effective nonpharmacological treatment for CLBP. Many studies have shown that any general exercise routine is effective for improving symptoms, but the literature provides conflicting evidence about what specific type of exercise is best.3 A few studies have demonstrated decreased pain and disability with supervised directional preference exercise routines compared to non-directional preference routines. The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a home directional preference exercise/stretch program for reducing disability in mechanical CLBP in patients in a residency clinic and to expand on the limited evidence of directional preference exercise effectiveness. Unlike other directional preference interventional studies, this program’s simplicity and convenience of performing at home potentially could increase patient compliance and therefore effectiveness. Patients were screened at a routine clinic visit and considered eligible if they had a known diagnosis of CLBP. They were excluded if they were in an acute exacerbation. Participating patients were categorized on directional range of motion preference based on their physical exam, either flexion or extension, whichever improved their pain. They were given a simple routine with instructions and pictures consisting of three exercises and stretches that emphasized their specific directional preference. Subjects performed three sets of each routine two to three days per week. Degree of disability score was measured at initial visit by completing the gold standard disability index questionnaire, the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). Degree of disability was reassessed with ODI at a follow-up assessment four to eight weeks later with five follow-up questions regarding compliance and acute exacerbation. Patients were excluded if they were in an acute exacerbation. Pre-interventional disability scores were then compared to post-interventional disability scores. Twelve total patients enrolled in the program. Seven were lost to follow up. Five completed the study at the proper follow up interval; however, one was in an acute exacerbation so was excluded. Of the four patients included, two had extension and two had flexion preference. Three out of four patients had decreased disability scores at follow up. Total post-intervention score on ODI improved by an average of 10 points compared to pre-intervention score for the patients who improved. The most improved post-interventional ODI score category was walking and changing degree of pain. Seventy-five percent of the patients who completed the study had an improvement in their CLBP disability score. However, due to a small sample size and study power, the results are not statistically significant. Therefore, a conclusion cannot be appropriately drawn about the effectiveness of performing a home directional preference exercise/stretch program for reducing disability in mechanical CLBP in patients at a residency clinic. Nevertheless, the results are promising and deserve further investigation with a larger sample size.

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Effectiveness of Home Directional Preference Exercise/Stretch Program for Reducing Disability in Mechanical Chronic Low Back Pain in a Residency Clinic, a Quality Improvement Project

Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is defined as pain, muscle tension, or stiffness localized below the costal margin and above the inferior gluteal folds, with or without sciatica, that lasts for at least twelve weeks.1 It is the leading cause of disability and loss of productivity in the United States.2 There is conflicting evidence on what is the most effective nonpharmacological treatment for CLBP. Many studies have shown that any general exercise routine is effective for improving symptoms, but the literature provides conflicting evidence about what specific type of exercise is best.3 A few studies have demonstrated decreased pain and disability with supervised directional preference exercise routines compared to non-directional preference routines. The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a home directional preference exercise/stretch program for reducing disability in mechanical CLBP in patients in a residency clinic and to expand on the limited evidence of directional preference exercise effectiveness. Unlike other directional preference interventional studies, this program’s simplicity and convenience of performing at home potentially could increase patient compliance and therefore effectiveness. Patients were screened at a routine clinic visit and considered eligible if they had a known diagnosis of CLBP. They were excluded if they were in an acute exacerbation. Participating patients were categorized on directional range of motion preference based on their physical exam, either flexion or extension, whichever improved their pain. They were given a simple routine with instructions and pictures consisting of three exercises and stretches that emphasized their specific directional preference. Subjects performed three sets of each routine two to three days per week. Degree of disability score was measured at initial visit by completing the gold standard disability index questionnaire, the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). Degree of disability was reassessed with ODI at a follow-up assessment four to eight weeks later with five follow-up questions regarding compliance and acute exacerbation. Patients were excluded if they were in an acute exacerbation. Pre-interventional disability scores were then compared to post-interventional disability scores. Twelve total patients enrolled in the program. Seven were lost to follow up. Five completed the study at the proper follow up interval; however, one was in an acute exacerbation so was excluded. Of the four patients included, two had extension and two had flexion preference. Three out of four patients had decreased disability scores at follow up. Total post-intervention score on ODI improved by an average of 10 points compared to pre-intervention score for the patients who improved. The most improved post-interventional ODI score category was walking and changing degree of pain. Seventy-five percent of the patients who completed the study had an improvement in their CLBP disability score. However, due to a small sample size and study power, the results are not statistically significant. Therefore, a conclusion cannot be appropriately drawn about the effectiveness of performing a home directional preference exercise/stretch program for reducing disability in mechanical CLBP in patients at a residency clinic. Nevertheless, the results are promising and deserve further investigation with a larger sample size.