The course of back pain over time

Back pain is among the most frequently reported health problems in the world. New research published in Arthritis Care & Research, an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals, examines patterns in back pain over time and identifies the patient characteristics and the extent of healthcare and medication use (including opioids) associated with different patterns.

The study included a representative sample of the Canadian population that was followed from 1994 to 2011. A total of 12,782 participants were interviewed every two years and provided data on factors including comorbidities, pain, disability, opioid and other medication use, and healthcare visits.

During the 16 years of follow-up, almost half (45.6 percent) of participants reported back pain at least once. 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).

Full story at Science Daily

Back pain shows significant association with mortality among older women

Researchers at Boston Medical Center found that frequent, persistent back pain is associated with earlier death in a study of more than 8,000 older women who were followed for an average of 14 years. After controlling for important sociodemographic and health factors, women who reported frequent, persistent back pain had a 24 percent increased risk of death compared to women with no back pain. Published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the study is the first to measure the impact of back pain persisting over time on mortality. The researchers also found that disability measured after back pain helped explain the association.

Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and women aged 40-80 years have the highest prevalence of back pain. Also, women report more frequent and debilitating back pain compared to men. The proportion of adults over the age of 65 is increasing rapidly in the United States, and optimizing physical health in order to extend life for older adults is a well-documented public health goal.

“To our knowledge, our study is the first to measure disability after measurement of back pain. This allowed for a prospective analysis of back pain that persisted over time and later rates of disability, which may help explain the association between back pain and mortality,” said Eric Roseen, DC, MSc, a research fellow at Boston Medical Center and leading author of the study. “Our findings raise the question of whether better management of back pain across the lifespan could prevent disability, improve quality of life, and ultimately extend life.”

Full story at Science Daily

Music therapy reduces pain in spine surgery patients

Music therapy has been found to decrease pain in patients recovering from spine surgery, compared to a control group of patients who received standard postoperative care alone. The study, published in The American Journal of Orthopedics, included a team of researchers from The Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine and the Mount Sinai Department of Orthopaedics. About 70 percent of people in the United States experience at least one episode of back pain in their lifetime, and more than 5 million are temporarily or permanently disabled by spinal disorders.

“This study is unique in its quest to integrate music therapy in medicine to treat post-surgical pain” said John Mondanaro, the study’s lead author and Clinical Director of The Louis Armstrong Department of Music Therapy. “Postoperative spine patients are at major risk for pain management challenges.”

Full story of music therapy for spine surgery patients at Science Daily

Is back pain killing us?

The 600,000 older Australians who suffer from back pain have a 13 per cent increased risk of dying from any cause, University of Sydney research has found.

Published in the European Journal of Pain, the study of 4390 Danish twins aged more than 70 years investigated whether spinal pain increased the rate of all-cause and disease-specific cardiovascular mortality.

Low back pain is a major problem, ranked as the highest contributor to disability in the world. Nearly four million people in Australia suffer from low back pain and the total cost of treatment exceeds $1 billion a year.

Full story of back pain and related death risk at Science Daily

Surgery for back pain reduces problems with sex life-related pain

For patients with degenerative spinal disease, surgery is more effective in reducing pain that interferes with sexual activity, compared to nonsurgical treatment, reports a study in the November 15 issue of Spine, published by Wolters Kluwer.

“Sex life is a relevant consideration for the majority of patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis,” write Dr. Shane Burch of University of California-San Francisco and colleagues. “Operative treatment leads to improved sex life-related pain,” in addition to reducing pain and disability from degenerative spinal conditions.

Full story of back pain surgery and sex-life related pain at Science Daily

Many back pain patients get limited relief from opioids and worry about taking them, survey shows

Millions of people take opioids for chronic back pain, but many of them get limited relief while experiencing side effects and worrying about the stigma associated with taking them, suggests research presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2016 annual meeting.

More than 100 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain, and those with chronic low back pain are more likely than patients with other types of pain to be prescribed opioids. Unfortunately, these medications are addictive and can cause side effects, ranging from drowsiness to breathing problems.

“Patients are increasingly aware that opioids are problematic, but don’t know there are alternative treatment options,” said Asokumar Buvanendran, M.D., lead author of the study, director of orthopedic anesthesia and vice chair for research at Rush University, Chicago, and vice chair of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Committee on Pain Medicine. “While some patients may benefit from opioids for severe pain for a few days after an injury, physicians need to wean their patients off them and use multi-modal therapies instead.”

Full story of back patients getting limited relief from opioids at Science Daily

Researchers question use of paracetamol for lower back pain and osteoarthritis

New research shows that paracetamol is ineffective in reducing pain, disability or improving quality of life for patients who suffer from low back pain or osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, and its use may affect the liver.

The study published in the British Medical Journalprovides new evidence that paracetamol is no better at treating low back pain than a placebo and its effect on osteoarthritis of the hip or knee is too small to be clinically worthwhile.

Lead author, Gustavo Machado of The George Institute and the University of Sydney says the results of this systematic review provide cause to review guidelines that endorse paracetamol for back pain and osteoarthritis.

Full story of paracetamol for back pain and osteoarthritis at Science Daily

Psychological factors play a part in acupuncture treatment of back pain

People with back pain who have low expectations of acupuncture before they start a course of treatment will gain less benefit than those people who believe it will work, according to new research from the University of Southampton.

Conversely, those people who have a positive view of back pain and who feel in control of their condition experience less back-related disability over the course of acupuncture treatment.

The University of Southampton’s Dr Felicity Bishop, an Arthritis Research UK career development fellow, carried out the research to find out why some people with back pain gain more benefit from acupuncture than others.

Full story of acupuncture treatment for back pain at Science Daily