Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not “Is Pilates an effective treatment for improving functional disability and pain in patients with nonspecific low back pain?”

STUDY DESIGN: Review of three English language primary studies, two of which were published in 2006 and the other in 2009.

DATA SOURCES: Three single-blind randomized control trials comparing the Pilates method of treatment to a control group that did not receive Pilates intervention were found using PubMed and EBSCOhost databases.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: Each of the studies had patients participate in Pilates sessions for six to seven weeks. The outcomes measured include whether or not there was a decrease in low back pain and improvement in functional disability. The subjective measurement of outcomes included NRS-101 pain scale, Roland Morris Questionnaire, Owestry Low Back Pain Disability Questionnaire, symptom report, sport functioning questionnaire, visual analog pain scale, and present pain intensity scale. The tools used to assess significance of outcomes measured were P-values and change in mean from baseline.

RESULTS: All of the single-blind randomized control trials showed a significant decrease in low back pain after the Pilates intervention. The Rydeard et al single-blind randomized control trial also showed a significant improvement in functional disability after the Pilates intervention.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of the RCT’s reviewed demonstrate Pilates method to be an effective treatment for improving functional disability and decreasing low back pain. Further research is needed to determine length, intensity, and specific Pilates exercises that may yield maximum results and long term relief.