Will Your Acute Episode of Low Back Pain Become a Chronic Problem?

In this article by Islington’s Angel Wellbeing Clinic’s Osteopath will cover the following:

• Acute back pain
• Chronic back pain

There are so many statistics regarding back pain, percentage of the population that will experience back pain, days lost from work and how much this costs the economy and employers right down to risk associated with taking non prescription non steroidal anti-inflammatories such as diclofenac and neurofen and heart attacks.

No matter how you look at these statistics and what spin you put on the figures it is impossible to get away from the fact that back pain is endemic in our society. It goes without saying that eliminating back pain is going to be impossible so managing back pain is the next best thing for our health, our economy and preventing acute episodes of back pain developing into chronic episodes is the logical approach.

A recent study looking at back pain and published in The Journal of Pain compared pain intensity ratings, pain location, medication use and sensory and affective (such as depression) variables and how they differ amongst acute and chronic low back pain individuals. The study looked into what possible factors might assist in predicting the types of acute pain that lead patients onto developing chronic pain from an acute episode.

The research suggests that there is limited information regarding differences in clinical-based features in acute and chronic back pain. The common method of differentiating acute and chronic pain is the duration, whereby acute pain lasts less than six weeks, sub-acute pain has duration of seven to 12 weeks and chronic pain lasting three months or longer.

Results indicate that pain intensity was significantly higher in the chronic low back patients. For pain location the study reported sub-acute pain patients had a higher incidence of unilateral radiating pain, whilst chronic pain subjects experienced mostly bilateral pain. The depression score showed just a slight increase in those with longer pain duration and was considered to be attributable to pain intensity.

The study concluded that pain intensity and pain location are characteristics that can predict chronic low back pain, with chronic low back pain subjects reporting more significant pain than sub-acute pain subjects. The location of pain in acute back pain patients may also serve as a predictor for development of a chronic condition.

This study doesn’t look at the treatment of back pain, but it would be sensible to take acute back-pain seriously and do as much as possible to prevent back pain from developing in the first place. This can only be done by addressing lifestyle and in particular, work place ergonomics.

The Angel Wellbeing Clinic in Islington provides chiropractic, physiotherapy, psychotherapy, massage therapy and nutritional therapy. We can also provide workplace advice and corporate wellbeing services such as ergonomic assessments and stress reduction classes.

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