Exercise for Chronic, Non-Cancer Back Pain: A Review of Cost-Effectiveness and Guidelines


Project Status:
Project Line:
Health Technology Review
Project Sub Line:
Summary with Critical Appraisal
Project Number:


  1. What is the cost-effectiveness of exercise for chronic, non-cancer back pain?
  2. What are the evidence-based guidelines regarding exercise for chronic, non-cancer back pain?

Key Message

Two evidence-based clinical practice guidelines provide strong recommendations for using professionally supervised exercise therapy, including motor control exercise, as the primary treatment of chronic non-specific low back pain. One guideline strongly recommends combining exercise with educative measures based on behavioral-therapeutic principle, and strongly recommends against using bed rest as a part of the treatment of non-specific low back pain. The applicability and implementation of exercise therapy for chronic non-cancer back pain were not adequately addressed by either guideline, and the information about the specific movements involved in exercise regimens and the order in which to perform them, duration, and frequencies of exercise was not provided. No relevant evidence regarding the cost-effectiveness of exercise for chronic, non-cancer back pain was identified; therefore, no summary can be provided.