+AA
Fr
Back
Evidence Summary

What is an Evidence Summary?

Key messages from scientific research that's ready to be acted on

Got It, Hide this
  • Rating:

Walking reduces pain and improves physical functioning in people who have chronic musculoskeletal pain

O’Connor SR, Tully MA, Ryan B, et al. Walking exercise for chronic musculoskeletal pain: systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015;96:724-34.

Review question

Does walking reduce pain and improve physical function in people who have chronic (long-lasting) musculoskeletal pain?

Background

Chronic musculoskeletal pain is long-lasting pain that affects bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. Common types of musculoskeletal pain include low back pain, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia syndrome. These painful conditions limit people from doing their regular activities. Exercise is often recommended as treatment to reduce pain and to maintain or improve physical function.

How the review was done

The researchers did a systematic review, searching for published trials up to March 2014. They found 26 trials with 2384 people 18 years of age or older (average 57 years of age). People had osteoarthritis in 12 trials, fibromyalgia syndrome in 8 trials, chronic low back pain in 5 trials, and chronic hip, lower back, or knee pain in 1 trial.

The walking intervention was walking only in 13 trials and walking plus education or other forms of exercise in the other 13 trials.

Walking interventions (outside or using a treadmill) were compared with education, usual care, other forms of exercise, or relaxation and massage.

Outcomes were pain and self-reported function.

What the researchers found

Trials were rated as having fair or good quality.

Walking interventions improved pain up to 1 year but did not differ from non-walking interventions after 1 year.

Walking interventions improved physical function at all time points.

Conclusion

Walking reduces pain and improves physical function in people who have chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Walking vs non-walking interventions for chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions

Outcomes

Follow-up

Number of trials (number of people)

Effect of walking intervention

Pain

Up to 8 weeks

7 trials (343 people)

Walking reduced pain by about 5 points out of 100

 

2 to 12 months

9 trials (604 people)

Walking reduced pain by about 8 points out of 100

 

More than 12 months

3 trials (529 people)

No difference in pain.

Physical function

Up to 8 weeks

7 trials (371 people)

Walking improved physical function by about 6 points out of 100

 

2 to 12 months

8 trials (570 people)

Walking improved physical function by about 9 points out of 100

 

More than 12 months

3 trials (397 people)

Walking improved physical function by about 5 points out of 100

 




Glossary

Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

Related Web Resources

  • Achilles tendon rupture: Should I have surgery?

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps people with an Achilles tendon rupture decide on whether to have surgery or treat the rupture with a cast or brace by comparing the benefits, risks and side effects of both options.
  • Treating pressure ulcers: New evidence, continued uncertainty

    Evidently Cochrane
    Gauze dressings should not be used to treat pressure ulcers (bed sores). Other options include alginate dressings, hydrogel dressings, and negative pressure wound therapy. More evidence is needed about which options are best to improve pain and reduce complications. Research should measure outcomes that matter to patients and carers as well as health professionals.
  • Joint pain

    Mayo Clinic
    Apply ice for 15-20 minutes a few times each day, use a heating pad and try an over-the-counter pain reliever to help with mild joint pain. See your doctor if you have joint pain with swelling, redness, tenderness or warmth around the joint or if joint pain is caused by an injury.
DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (info@mcmasteroptimalaging.org).

Register for free access to all Professional content

Register
Want the latest in aging research? Sign up for our email alerts.
Subscribe
© 2012 - 2017 McMaster University | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4L8 | +1 905-525-9140 | Terms Of Use