Study examines the course of back pain over time

One in five experienced persistent back pain over time.


Back pain is extremely common and can be caused by many simple everyday activities. It is most frequently reported health problem globally.

A new study examined patterns in back pain after some time and distinguish the patient attributes and the degree of healthcare and medication use related with various patterns.

The examination incorporated a representative test of the Canadian populace that was pursued from 1994 to 2011. An aggregate of 12,782 members interviewed every two years and gave information on variables including comorbidities, pain, disability, opioid, and other medication use, and healthcare visits.

Almost half of the participants reported to experience back pain at least once. Moreover, there were four trajectories of pain among these participants: persistent (18 percent), developing (28.1 percent), recovery (20.5 percent), and occasional (33.4 percent).

Two groups including the persistent and developing reported experiencing more pain and disability. They also reported more healthcare visits and medication use. The recovery trajectory group increased the use of opioids and antidepressants over time.

Lead author Mayilee Canizares, Ph.D., of the University Health Network’s Krembil Research Institute in Toronto, Canada said, “The good news is that one in five people with back pain recovered; however, they continued to use opioids and antidepressants, suggesting that people recovering from back pain need ongoing monitoring.”

“The bad news was that one in five experienced persistent back pain, with an additional group–almost one in three–who developed back pain over time. These two groups were associated with greater pain limiting activity, disability, and depression, as well as increased healthcare and medication use.”

“The findings suggest that people with back pain are a heterogeneous group that may benefit from different approaches to management rather than a traditional one size fits all approach. The distinct groups identified in the study may represent opportunities for more individualized treatment and preventative strategies.”

New research published in Arthritis Care & Research, an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals.

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