Aquatic Therapy for Chronic Low Back Pain

A Controlled Clinical Trial Examining the Effects of Intensive Aquatic Therapy Program on Chronic Low Back Pain

By Baena-Beato PA, Artero EG, Arroyo-Morales M, Robles-Fuentes A, Gatto-Cardia MC, Delgado-Fernández M. from the University of Granada, Granada, Spain, October 2013

The aim of this study was to determine the effect of two-month intensive aquatic therapy program on back pain, disability, quality of life, body composition and health-related fitness in sedentary adults with chronic low back pain.

Forty-nine sedentary patients with chronic low back pain were allocated into active group (n = 24, two months, five times/week) or waiting list, control group (n = 25) according to space on the program.

Variables & Outcome Measures

  1. Pain (visual analogue scale)
  2. Disability (Oswestry Disability Index)
  3. Quality of life (Quality Short-Form Health Survey 36)
  4. Body composition (weight, body mass index, body fat percentage and skeletal muscle mass)
  5. Health-related fitness (sit-and-reach, handgrip strength, curl-up, Rockport 1-mile test)


The active group significantly improved low back pain (-3.83 ± 0.35 mm on the visual analogue scale), disability (-12.7 ± 1.3 points for the Oswestry Disability Index) and the standardized physical component (10.3 ± 1.4 points for the Quality Short-Form Health Survey 36) of quality-of-life domains (P < 0.001), with no significant changes on the standardized mental component (P = 0.114). In relation to body composition and fitness, the active group showed significant improvements (all P-values < 0.01). The control group presented no significant change in any parameter.


A two-month intensive aquatic therapy program of high-frequency (five times/week) decreases levels of back pain and disability, increases quality of life, and improves body composition and health-related fitness in sedentary adults with chronic low back pain.

PMID: 24177712