HealthDay News — Self-management techniques for reducing pain and disability in patients with non-specific low back pain may not be as effective as previously thought, results from a metaanalysis suggest.

“There is moderate quality evidence that self-management has small effects on pain and disability in people with low back pain,” Vinicius C. Oliveira, MSc, of the University of Sydney, and colleagues reported in Arthritis Care and Research.

The review included data from 13 original trials — both short-term, which were defined as less than six months of follow-up after randomization, and long-term, defined as 12 months or more of follow-up after randomization.

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At short-term follow-up, the weighted mean difference for pain among those who used self-management techniques was −3.2 points (on a 0 to 100 scale; 95% Cl: -5.1 to -1.3) and the weighted mean difference for disability was −2.3 points (95% CI: -3.7 to -1.0). The corresponding figures for long-term follow-up were −4.8 and −2.1 points, the researchers found.

“Although effective when compared to minimal intervention, we are unsure if self-management provides worthwhile effects in the management of low back pain,” the researchers wrote. “These results challenge the endorsement of self-management in treatment guidelines.”

Oliviera VC et al. Arthritis Care Res. 2012; doi: 10.1002/acr.21737.