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Low Back Pain Treatment Should Involve Consideration Of Social Factors

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When medical professionals have to assess and treat low back pain, they should consider the broader implications of the condition, more specifically its impact on patients´ social lives. At present, the effectiveness of new treatments is measured through their effect on pain and disability levels but future developments should pay greater attention to social factors so that patients can truly benefit from health care.

This is according to a review conducted by researchers from Coventry-based Warwick Medical School with the financial support of Arthritis Research UK. The university team combed through 49 research papers detailing the findings of 42 studies. The review showed that people suffering from low back pain had numerous other concerns besides the constant burden of pain and the threat of disability. The condition is often the reason for ruined relationships, withdrawal from society, isolation and depression. The literature examined by the researchers featured concerns such as job security fears, loss of control over life and lack of belief among others that patients really had health problems because their pain could not be attributed to a specific cause.

Commenting on the study, Arthritis Research UK medical director Professor Alan Silman highlighted the fact that chronic back pain ranked among the leading morbidity causes in the UK. Millions of people experience pain, distress and loss of function, many of them suffering for decades. This study has demonstrated the need to look at the broader picture when assessing and treating the condition, which means that the social impact should be considered alongside physical problems, Professor Silman added.

It is estimated that 4% of Britons take sick leave from work due to low back pain. This translates into an annual loss of approximately 900 million working days, Arthritis Research UK noted.