European Spine Journal

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 87–93 | Cite as

Maximal aerobic power in patients with chronic low back pain: a comparison with healthy subjects

Original Article


The objective of the study was to compare the maximal aerobic capacity of patients with chronic low back pain with healthy asymptomatic controls matched for age, gender and level of physical activity at work and during sports activities. Reported data in the literature with respect to aerobic capacity in patients with chronic low back pain are not conclusive. Nevertheless, based on the assumption that chronic low back pain leads to deconditioning, physical training programs are widely used as a treatment. A total of 70 patients with chronic low back pain and 70 healthy asymptomatic subjects completed questionnaires regarding demographics and performed a graded maximal exercise test until exhaustion on a cycle ergometer. The maximal aerobic power was measured by indirect calorimetry. Heart rate, respiratory exchange ratio and blood lactate levels were also measured. The test was considered maximal when VO2max achievement criteria were obtained. VO2max values were compared among groups. The absolute and normalized for weight values of VO2max measured in patients with chronic low back pain were significantly lower than that of the control group. Independent comparison between men and women showed that absolute values of VO2max are also significantly lower in men and women with chronic low back pain. Women reached absolute and normalized for weight VO2max values significantly lower than those of men, both in chronic low back pain and control group. In conclusion, chronic low back pain patients, especially women, seem to have a reduced aerobic capacity compared to healthy asymptomatic subjects.


Low back pain Aerobic capacity Functional restoration Deconditioning 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ivan Duque
    • 1
  • José-Hernán Parra
    • 2
  • Alain Duvallet
    • 3
  1. 1.Universidad de CaldasManizalesColombia
  2. 2.Universidad NacionalManizalesColombia
  3. 3.AP-HP, Hôpital Avicenne. Université Paris 13BobignyFrance

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