Pool therapy beats physical therapy for chronic low back pain

Lena Weib

News briefs

Aquatic (pool) therapy and physical therapy are two treatments that can reduce pain. But which is better for chronic low back pain? A small randomized trial published online Jan. 3, 2022, by JAMA Network Open suggests that buoyancy has the edge. Researchers took a group of 113 people with chronic low back pain, ages 18 to 65, and divided them into two groups. The people in one group had two 60-minute physical therapy sessions per week; the others took part in two 60-minute sessions of pool exercises per week. After 12 weeks, about half of the people in the pool therapy group showed an improvement of two to 5 points in their pain scores (depending on the scale), compared with only 21% or fewer in the physical therapy group. And a year later, the pool exercisers still felt better than the land exercisers. Researchers say pool therapy seemed to have a greater influence than physical therapy on pain, function, quality of life, sleep quality, and mental state.

Image: © ajr_images/Getty Images

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