Back Pain

Updated 21 January 2016

Lower back pain may lead to disability

A new study finds that people suffering from severe, short-term lower back pain are at increased risk for long-term pain and disability.

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For people suffering from severe, short-term low back pain, an end may not be in sight: a new study finds that they're at increased risk for long-term pain and disability.

The study included 488 people who were treated for low back pain and were then sent questionnaires every six months for five years.

Higher levels of pain at the initial visit were associated with a 12% higher risk of pain six months later, and with a 9% increased risk of pain five years later.

Patients who will fail to find future relief may suspect it early on, the study suggests.

Participants' beliefs that their pain would persist was associated with a 4% increased risk at six months and a 6% increased risk at 5 years.

The study was published in the August issue of The Journal of Pain.

The findings confirm previous research showing that initial low back pain intensity is a key predictor of future pain and disability, but this study is the first to show this association over a long period of time, said researchers Paul Campbell and colleagues with the Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Center.

The investigators also said their study confirms the importance of pain relief in the early treatment of low back pain, and that patient beliefs that their pain will persist for a long time can predict progression to chronic low back pain.

Up to 70% of Americans will experience low back pain at some point in their lives and many will progress to long-term, chronic low back pain, according to a journal news release.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about low back pain.

 

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Susan qualified as a Physiotherapist in 1990, and completed her master’s degree in Physiotherapy in 2013 at the University of Pretoria. She has a special interest in human biomechanics, as well as the interaction between domestic and work-related ergonomics.

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