March 22, 2018
Although lower back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting an estimated 540 million people at any one time, it is often mistreated, according to a new series of papers in The Lancet medical journal. The series provides evidence that back pain should be managed with activity, in the workplace and in primary care. However, a high proportion of patients worldwide are treated in emergency departments, encouraged to rest and stop work, are referred for scans and surgery or prescribed pain killers including opioids. The authors claim this is at best pointless and at worst harmful. Exercise and psychological therapy are the only things that work for the majority of cases of chronic back pain but too many people wrongly believe the idea that rest is best for the condition, according to the authors. The series of papers also concludes that job satisfaction and a positive attitude are among the strongest indicators of how well people will overcome chronic back pain and related issues.