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WalkBack Trial: Cutting Back Pain Recurrence

Recurrent Low Back Pain: A Common Issue

Low back pain is a prevalent health issue affecting a significant portion of the population. Approximately 70% of individuals who recover from an episode of low back pain will experience another episode within a year. This recurrence places a burden on both individuals and the healthcare system.

The WalkBack Trial: Combining Walking and Education

In a recent study published in The Lancet, researchers explored a novel approach to tackle this recurrent issue. The study, known as the WalkBack trial, involved 701 adults who had recently recovered from low back pain. Participants were randomly allocated to either an intervention or control group.

Intervention Details

Participants in the intervention group underwent a program that combined personalized walking sessions and educational sessions led by physiotherapists. Over six months, physiotherapists guided participants through six sessions.


During the first, third, and fifth sessions, personalized walking programs were developed based on individual needs and preferences. The subsequent sessions focused on monitoring progress and addressing any barriers to adherence, primarily conducted through telehealth due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Control Group Comparison

Participants in the control group received no specific preventative treatment or education beyond typical post-recovery care practices.

Key Findings

The results of the study demonstrated promising outcomes. Participants in the intervention group experienced a 28% reduction in the risk of low back pain recurrence that limited daily activities compared to the control group. Moreover, there was a 43% decrease in the recurrence of low back pain which led participants to seek professional healthcare services. On average, those in the intervention group had a significantly longer period before experiencing a recurrence (median of 208 days pain-free versus 112 days in the control group).


The intervention was also found to be cost-effective, primarily due to reductions in work absenteeism and healthcare service utilization among participants.

Study Limitations

The majority of participants were female, aged between 43 and 66, and generally well-educated, potentially limiting the generalizability of the results. Additionally, the study utilized physiotherapists with specialized training in health coaching, raising questions about whether similar results could be achieved with other healthcare providers.

Walking: An Accessible Solution

The approach highlighted in the WalkBack trial is significant because it emphasizes a preventative strategy rather than focusing solely on treating episodes of low back pain after they occur. Unlike previous studies that often centered on costly or complex exercises, this intervention centered on walking—a free and accessible form of exercise with numerous health benefits beyond just pain prevention.

Future Considerations

While walking proved effective in this study, further research could explore the effectiveness of other low-cost and accessible forms of exercise, such as swimming, in preventing low back pain.


In conclusion, the findings from the WalkBack trial provide encouraging evidence that a program combining walking and education can significantly reduce the recurrence of low back pain. This approach not only benefits individual health but also has the potential to alleviate the broader societal and economic burden associated with recurrent low back pain.

Source: Inputs from various media Sources 

the aartery chronicles

Priya Bairagi

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