SAGE Journals

Exercise treatments for lumbar spinal stenosis: A systematic review and intervention component analysis of randomised controlled trials

Posted on 2023-09-17 - 12:07

To analyse the components used in exercise interventions for people with symptoms of neurogenic claudication due to lumbar spinal stenosis and identify components associated with successful interventions.

Data sources

Eligible papers published up to April 2023 from MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PEDro, CENTRAL, Web of Science, and trial registry websites.

Review methods

Literature searches were performed by an Information Specialist. We searched for randomised trials evaluating exercise interventions for people with neurogenic claudication symptoms (the primary symptom of lumbar spinal stenosis). Two authors independently performed study selection, data extraction, and quality assessments using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool Version 2 and the TIDieR checklist for intervention reporting. Details of intervention components were extracted, tabulated, and synthesised using an intervention component analysis approach.


We found thirteen trials reporting 23 exercise interventions delivered to 1440 participants. These featured 60 different components. Most exercise interventions included supervision and flexion-based exercises. Balance exercises were rarely included. Exercise components featured more frequently in successful interventions included stretches, strength or trunk muscle exercises, fitness exercises, especially cycling, and psychologically informed approaches. Interpretation is limited by low study numbers and heterogeneity. No conclusions could be drawn about exercise supervision or dose.


Exercise interventions for people with neurogenic claudication typically feature multiple components. Common features such as supervision, lumbar flexion, and aerobic fitness exercises and also less common features such as stretches, strengthening exercises, and psychologically informed approaches warrant consideration for inclusion when designing and optimising exercise interventions for people with lumbar spinal stenosis.


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