Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
Work-related musculoskeletal pain (pain caused by an injury to the bones, joints and/or muscles) is a serious problem among hospital staff. Nurses have been found to be particularly vulnerable to neck (cervical) and lower back (lumbar) pain, due to daily moving and handling of patients. In many cases, the pain experienced can lead to people avoiding physical activity, which can actually make the problem worse. It has been found that simple exercises designed to gradually increase the range of motion (ROM) of joints could help to reduce pain and stiffness, as well as strengthening muscles. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of a home-based exercise programme can help to reduce pain and ROM in intensive care nurses.
Who can participate?
Intensive care nurses who have suffered from mild to moderate MSP during the past 6 months.
What does the study involve?
At the start of the study, participants are interviewed in order to assess the intensity of back and neck pain they currently experience. Those who are experiencing the most pain undergo an 8 week programme of exercise therapy (experimental group). The participants taught exercises specially designed to improve the range of motion in their neck and back, and are asked to practice the exercises once a day, six days a week. The other participants are asked to continue with their lives as normal for the 8 week study. At the end of the 8 weeks, participants are interviewed in order to find out if their pain levels have changed. Additionally, at the start of the study and after 8 weeks, participants have the range of motion in the cervical spine (neck) and lumbar region (lower back) using a digital goniometer (device used to make precise measurements of angles).
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Participants may benefit from increased awareness of the importance of physical activity to maintaining their range of motion, which could help to reduce MSP in the neck and lower back. There is a risk related to over-training, which could lead to pain and discomfort.
Where is the study run from?
Tartu University Hospital (Estonia)
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
September 2010 to September 2011
Who is funding the study?
Archimedes Foundation (Estonia)
Who is the main contact?
Mrs Tiina Freimann
Mrs Tiina Freimann
Tartu University Hospital
Changes of functional characteristics of cervical and lumbar spine of intensive care unit nurses after 8-week home-exercise therapy
The specially designed home-exercise therapy programme could improve cervical and lumbar range of motion to reduce neck and lower back pain among ICU nurses.
Research Ethics Committee of the University of Tartu, 14/03/2011, ref: 202T-19
Single-centre non-randomised interventional study
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Non randomised study
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use contact details to request a participant information sheet
Cervical and lumbar range of motion
The prevalence and intensity of musculo-skeletal pain (MSP) was assessed to select potential participants for the experimental group.
Experimental group: Participants underwent 8-weeks of exercise therapy, with the frequency and intensity of the exercises increasing every two weeks. The participants were asked to perform exercises as one to three sets of 8–10 repetitions.The goal for subjects was to perform exercises once a day, six days a week, for 8 weeks.
Control group: Participants were asked to continue their normal life, and not asked to do any additional exercises.
Cervical and lumbar range of motion of participants in both groups is measured with a digital goniometer at the end of the 8 week intervention period.
Primary outcome measure
1. Cervical range of motion (CROM) is measured using a digital goniometer (AcumarTM Digital Inclinometer, Version 5.0) at baseline and 8 weeks
2. Lumbar range of motion (LROM) is measured using a digital goniometer (AcumarTM Digital Inclinometer, Version 5.0) at baseline and 8 weeks
Secondary outcome measures
Pain is measured using the 11-point Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) at baseline and 8 weeks.
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
1. Having worked full time for at least a year in the ICU
2. Being under 40 years of age
3. Having a body mass index <32
4. Having experienced mild to moderate pain in the cervical and or lumbar regions during the previous six months
1. Being under 40 years of age
2. Having a body mass index <32
3. Experiencing no musculo-skeletal pain (MSP) during the previous six months
Target number of participants
Total recruitment of participants (n=40); experimental group (n=13); control group (n=11).
Total final enrolment
Participant exclusion criteria
1. Acute orthopaedic and or neurological diseases
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
Tartu University Hospital
University of Tartu
Archimedes Foundation (Sihtasutus Archimedes)
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Planned publication in the BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation journal.
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Available on request
Basic results (scientific)
2020 results in https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26640694/ (added 02/12/2020)