Many People Suffer from Back Pain
According to 2005 figures, Approximately 50 percent of working-age people in the United States are reported to suffer from acute low back pain every year, and it is estimated that the annual productivity loss from acute lower back painnow totals in excess of $50 billion in the US. This number is sure to rise, as the median age in the US continues to grow, with the aging baby boomers as they enter their later years.
Low Back Pain Study
In an effort to determine if chronic low back pain can be predicted, researchers from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine recruited 40 acute back pain patients and 37 with chronic back pain for the study. The subjects were trained to rate their pain and completed several different questionnaires designed to assess pain intensity, medication use and evidence of affective disorders, such as depression.
The researchers investigated differences in pain characteristics between sub-acute back pain and chronic back pain and their relationship to pain intensity. The researchers noted there is limited information regarding differences in clinical-based features in short-and long-term back pain. The common differentiation for distinguishing types of low back pain are: acute pain lasting less than six weeks, sub-acute pain with duration of seven to 12 weeks and chronic pain lasting three months or longer.
Results showed that pain intensity was significantly higher in the chronic low back patients. Regarding pain location, the study reported sub-acute pain patients had a higher incidence of unilateral radiating pain while chronic pain subjects experienced mostly bilateral pain. Surprisingly, the depression score showed just a slight increase in those with longer pain duration and was considered to be attributable to pain intensity.
The authors concluded that pain intensity and pain location are characteristics that can predict chronic low back pain. They noted that chronic low back pain subjects reported more significant pain than sub-acute pain subjects in their study and there also is published evidence that the location of pain in acute back pain patients may serve as a predictor for development of a chronic condition. According to several reports, patients with sub-acute low back pain who experience discomfort triggered by movement at distal body sites have a poorer prognosis than those in which pain is more localized.