Recovery in four out of ten back pain sufferers within a year

Recovery in four out of ten back pain sufferers within a year

Research published on today reports that over a third (35 percent) of patients will recover from chronic low back pain within nine months and four out of 10 (41 percent) will do so within a year.

This groundbreaking study reveals findings that are contrary to the broad theory that recovery from an episode of chronic low back pain is doubtful.

Dr Luciola Menezes Costa, from the University of Sydney is the lead author. She reports that individuals were more likely to have delayed recovery it they had a prior sick leave due to low back pain, high disability levels, low levels of education and were born overseas.

The authors explain that chronic low back pain is a major health problem. It places an enormous social and economic burden on society. In addition, they argue that there is presently significant doubt associated with recovery rates.

The participants came from a larger group of 973 patients. They all attended primary care clinics in Sydney with a new episode of low back pain. These patients had visited their health care provider with acute low back pain which is defined as an episode lasting for more than 24 hours but less than two weeks. Patients with serious spinal health problems such as cancer, infection, fractures or inflammatory arthritis were withdrawn from the study. Those who had not recovered by ninety days were categorized as having chronic non-specific low back pain and joined the current study.

The researchers monitored 400 patients with chronic non-specific low back pain. Through a telephone interview they evaluated pain and disability levels, as well as work status nine and twelve months later. The results indicate that a considerable number of participants had full recovery within a year of first developing chronic low back pain. 35 percent recovered by nine months and 41 percent by one year.

In closing, Dr Menezes Costa comments that this study is significant as it demonstrates that the rate of recovery from chronic low back pain is superior to what was previously reported. The findings imply that the prognosis is not consistently poor for patients with chronic low back pain.

Also, the authors note that the results should be encouraging for patients since they demonstrate that recovery from a new episode of chronic non-specific low back pain is probable.

On the other hand, in an associated editorial, two senior researchers from Keele University remark that when considering a condition like low back pain that many people endure for a lifetime, research on patient outcome should take into account much longer time scales.

They write that further research can develop our understanding about the different patterns that come out and their order, why some people recover whereas others have episodic pain for years or develop long term constant pain.

"Prognosis for patients with chronic low back pain: inception cohort study"

Luciola da C Menezes Costa, PhD candidate, Christopher G Maher, director of division, James H McAuley, research manager, Mark J Hancock, lecturer, Robert D Herbert, associate professor, Kathryn M Refshauge, professo, Nicholas Henschke, postdoctoral fellow

BMJ 2009; 339:b3829

doi: 10.1136/bmj.b3829

"Prognosis of low back pain in primary care"

Elaine M Hay, professor of community rheumatology, Kate M Dunn, senior lecturer in epidemiology

BMJ 2009; 339:b3694

doi: 10.1136/bmj.b3694


Back pain recovery: getting back to life after years of back pain and back surgery (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Disease