WEDNESDAY, Jan. 12, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Therapeutic aquatic exercise leads to greater pain alleviation in patients with chronic low back pain compared with physical therapy, according to a study published online Jan. 7 in JAMA Network Open.

Meng-Si Peng, from the Shanghai University of Sport, and colleagues assessed the long-term effects of therapeutic aquatic exercise on people with chronic low back pain. The analysis included 113 participants randomly assigned to either therapeutic aquatic exercise (56 participants) or the physical therapy group (57 participants).

The researchers found that compared with the physical therapy modalities group, the therapeutic aquatic exercise group showed greater alleviation of disability after the three-month intervention, at the six-month follow-up, and at the 12-month follow-up. Improvements in favor of the therapeutic aquatic exercise group at 12 months included the number of participants who met the minimal clinically important difference in pain (at least a 2-point improvement on the numeric rating scale) and disability (at least a 5-point improvement on the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire).

“This finding may prompt clinicians to recommend therapeutic aquatic exercise to patients with chronic low back pain as part of treatment to improve their health through active exercise rather than relying on passive relaxation,” the authors write.

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