Will Your Back Pain Become Chronic?

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Back pain chiropracticBack pain, like other health problems, should now be “considered as a chronic recurring condition” argue the authors of a study on acute low back pain. The authors found that symptoms of acute and persistent low-back pain are likely to last longer than six weeks, and can even last up to a year. Since acute-low back pain is typically treated as a temporary problem, the research could significantly alter the way patients receive care.

The research was based on a meta-analysis of 11,000 patients with acute and persistent low-back pain gathered from several studies in a dozen countries.  In all countries, patients with acute and persistent low-back pain experienced substantial improvements in the first 6 weeks but often suffered from ongoing pain and disability thereafter. While the majority of acute low back pain patients had recovered in 12 weeks, those with persistent paint were unlikely to recover within a year.

This is the latest in a string of recent studies questioning the conventional notion that acute low back pain is temporary. The authors suggested that patients be better educated about the likelihood of recurring episodes of low-back pain, and that doctors should reconsider how they manage back pain. Since back pain may be a long-term issue, the authors wrote that “a one-off visit when [the pain] is bad is not likely to provide the best outcome.”

Costa OP, Maher C, Hancock M, McAuely J, Herbert R, and Costa L. The prognosis of acute and persistent low-back pain: A meta-analysis. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2012; DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.111271.

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