490 Pilates of some benefit for low-back pain

December 01, 2016

written by Brian R McAvoy.

Clinical question
How effective is the Pilates method for patients with non-specific acute, subacute or chronic low-back pain?

Bottom line

Pilates was more effective than minimal intervention in the short term (<3 months) and intermediate term (3–6 months) for pain and disability outcomes, and more effective than minimal intervention for improvement in function and global impression of recovery in the short term. Pilates was not more effective than other exercises for pain and disability in the short and intermediate term. For function, other exercises were more effective than Pilates at intermediate-term follow-up, but not at short-term follow-up. Thus, while there is some evidence for the effectiveness of Pilates for low-back pain, there is no conclusive evidence that it is superior to other forms of exercise. Minor or no adverse events were reported for the interventions.

The overall quality of the evidence ranged from low to moderate. The duration of the treatment programmes ranged from 10–90 days. The duration of follow-up varied from 4 weeks to 6 months. None of the included studies measured follow-up beyond 6 months. The sample sizes ranged from 17–87 participants.

Non-specific low-back pain is a major health problem worldwide. Interventions based on exercises have been the most commonly used treatments for patients with this condition. Over the past few years, the Pilates method has been one of the most popular exercise programmes used in clinical practice.

Cochrane Systematic Review

Yamato TP et al. Pilates for low back pain. Cochrane Reviews, 2015, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD010265.DOI: 10.1002/14651858. CD010265.pub2. This review contains 10 studies involving 510 participants.

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.