04/26/2010 - Articles

Integrated approach reduces chronic low back pain disability

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


Chronic low back pain is a common problem which often interferes with everyday life and prevents a person returning to work. Treatment is often ineffective, leaving the patient with chronic low back pain living with disability and not able to carry out their usual job.  But the situation can be improved if the workplace takes part in an integrated care approach to chronic low back pain, according to a new study.

Researchers in The Netherlands and Canada studied a group of 134 patients who had chronic low back pain, aged between 18 and 65 years. All had been absent from their work with chronic low back pain for about half a year on average. They were assigned, at random, to either usual care or integrated care. In the latter, adjustments of various kinds were made in the workplace and the patients carried out a graded exercise program that was intended to teach them how to move safely while increasing activity levels.

Questionnaires were completed by participants at the start and at three, six, nine and 12 months. Those receiving integrated care for chronic low back pain returned to work at an average of around 88 days, compared to 208 days for those receiving usual care. But there were no differences in pain improvement between the two groups. These findings suggest a valuable reduction in disability for patients with chronic low back pain receiving help from both their doctor and their occupational healthcare workers. The integrated approach could have a great impact in treating the condition.



Lambeek LC et al Randomised controlled trial of integrated care to reduce disability from chronic low back pain in working and private life British Medical Journal Online First March 2010. BMJ 2010;340:c1035>


Created on: 04/26/2010
Reviewed on: 04/26/2010

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