The Pilates method has recently become a fast-growing popular way of exercise recommended for healthy individuals and those engaged in rehabilitation. Several published studies have examined the effects of Pilates method in people with chronic low back pain (LBP). The objective of this study is to describe and provide an extensive overview of the scientific literature comparing the effectiveness of the Pilates method on pain and disability in patients with chronic nonspecific LBP. The study is based on the data from the following sources: MEDLINE-NLM, MEDLINE-EBSCO, Scopus Elsevier, Cochrane, DOAJ, SciELO, and PLOSONE. Original articles and systematic reviews of adults with chronic nonspecific LBP that evaluated pain and/or disability were included in this study; studies in which the primary treatment was based on Pilates method exercises compared with no treatment, minimal intervention, other types of intervention, or other types of exercises. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) were adopted. The literature search included 7 electronic databases and the reference list of relevant systematic reviews and original articles to July 2014. Two independent investigators conducted the literature search and performed the synthesis as follows: Study Design; Sample (n); Disability measure; Intervention; and Main results. The searches identified a total of 128 articles. From these, 29 were considered eligible and were included in the analysis. The items were stratified as follows: Pilates method versus other kind of exercises (n = 6 trials) and Pilates method versus no treatment group or minimal intervention for short-term pain (n = 9 trials); the therapeutic effect of the Pilates method in randomized cohorts (n = 5); and analysis of reviews (n = 9). We found that there is a dearth of studies that clearly demonstrates the efficacy of a specific Pilates exercise program over another in the treatment of chronic pain. However, the consensus in the field suggests that Pilates method is more effective than minimal physical exercise intervention in reducing pain. These conclusions need to be supported by other proper investigations.
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