Patients with acute low back pain rarely take sick leave but frequently develop chronic symptoms, a study from the journal Spine suggests.
In the study, researchers worked with 605 acute low-back pain patients with and without sciatica who were being treated in a primary-care setting. The patients were evaluated for initial pain and disability levels. On a scale of 1 to 10, patients reported an average pain level of 5.6. Their average disability score was 15.8 on the Roland-Morris scale of 0 to 24. Researchers were able to follow-up with 521 patients after six months and again with 443 patients after two years.
At six months, 13% of patients had developed chronic pain symptoms and 19% of patients had persistent pain after two years. Despite ongoing symptoms, only 8% of patients said they took sick leave as a result of pain. Even patients whose symptoms didn’t persist were likely to experience recurring episodes of pain since half of patients reported pain recurrences.
This study reinforces a point made in another recent study: current guidelines on acute low back pain are in need of revision. The idea that acute low back pain is temporary and non-recurring may no longer fit the reality experienced by many low back pain patients. Researchers wrote that “broad initiatives to develop new means for the primary and secondary prevention of recurrent and chronic LBP are urgently needed.”
A chiropractor can assist you in treating a current episode of acute low-back pain while helping you minimize your risk of developing chronic symptoms. preventing back pain found that chiropractic actually helps patients avoid future episodes of back pain.
Mehling WE, Gopisetty V, Bartmess E et al. The Prognosis of Acute Low Back Pain in Primary Care in the United States: A 2-Year Prospective Cohort Study. Spine 2012; 37(8): 678–684.