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1.  A Novel Tool for the Assessment of Pain: Validation in Low Back Pain 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(4):e1000047.
Joachim Scholz and colleagues develop and validate an assessment tool that distinguishes between radicular and axial low back pain.
Background
Adequate pain assessment is critical for evaluating the efficacy of analgesic treatment in clinical practice and during the development of new therapies. Yet the currently used scores of global pain intensity fail to reflect the diversity of pain manifestations and the complexity of underlying biological mechanisms. We have developed a tool for a standardized assessment of pain-related symptoms and signs that differentiates pain phenotypes independent of etiology.
Methods and Findings
Using a structured interview (16 questions) and a standardized bedside examination (23 tests), we prospectively assessed symptoms and signs in 130 patients with peripheral neuropathic pain caused by diabetic polyneuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia, or radicular low back pain (LBP), and in 57 patients with non-neuropathic (axial) LBP. A hierarchical cluster analysis revealed distinct association patterns of symptoms and signs (pain subtypes) that characterized six subgroups of patients with neuropathic pain and two subgroups of patients with non-neuropathic pain. Using a classification tree analysis, we identified the most discriminatory assessment items for the identification of pain subtypes. We combined these six interview questions and ten physical tests in a pain assessment tool that we named Standardized Evaluation of Pain (StEP). We validated StEP for the distinction between radicular and axial LBP in an independent group of 137 patients. StEP identified patients with radicular pain with high sensitivity (92%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 83%–97%) and specificity (97%; 95% CI 89%–100%). The diagnostic accuracy of StEP exceeded that of a dedicated screening tool for neuropathic pain and spinal magnetic resonance imaging. In addition, we were able to reproduce subtypes of radicular and axial LBP, underscoring the utility of StEP for discerning distinct constellations of symptoms and signs.
Conclusions
We present a novel method of identifying pain subtypes that we believe reflect underlying pain mechanisms. We demonstrate that this new approach to pain assessment helps separate radicular from axial back pain. Beyond diagnostic utility, a standardized differentiation of pain subtypes that is independent of disease etiology may offer a unique opportunity to improve targeted analgesic treatment.
Editors' Summary
Background
Pain, although unpleasant, is essential for survival. Whenever the body is damaged, nerve cells detecting the injury send an electrical message via the spinal cord to the brain and, as a result, action is taken to prevent further damage. Usually pain is short-lived, but sometimes it continues for weeks, months, or years. Long-lasting (chronic) pain can be caused by an ongoing, often inflammatory condition (for example, arthritis) or by damage to the nervous system itself—experts call this “neuropathic” pain. Damage to the brain or spinal cord causes central neuropathic pain; damage to the nerves that convey information from distant parts of the body to the spinal cord causes peripheral neuropathic pain. One example of peripheral neuropathic pain is “radicular” low back pain (also called sciatica). This is pain that radiates from the back into the legs. By contrast, axial back pain (the most common type of low back pain) is confined to the lower back and is non-neuropathic.
Why Was This Study Done?
Chronic pain is very common—nearly 10% of American adults have frequent back pain, for example—and there are many treatments for it, including rest, regulated exercise (physical therapy), pain-killing drugs (analgesics), and surgery. However, the best treatment for any individual depends on the exact nature of their pain, so it is important to assess their pain carefully before starting treatment. This is usually done by scoring overall pain intensity, but this assessment does not reflect the characteristics of the pain (for example, whether it occurs spontaneously or in response to external stimuli) or the complex biological processes involved in pain generation. An assessment designed to take such factors into account might improve treatment outcomes and could be useful in the development of new therapies. In this study, the researchers develop and test a new, standardized tool for the assessment of chronic pain that, by examining many symptoms and signs, aims to distinguish between pain subtypes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
One hundred thirty patients with several types of peripheral neuropathic pain and 57 patients with non-neuropathic (axial) low back pain completed a structured interview of 16 questions and a standardized bedside examination of 23 tests. Patients were asked, for example, to choose words that described their pain from a list provided by the researchers and to grade the intensity of particular aspects of their pain from zero (no pain) to ten (the maximum imaginable pain). Bedside tests included measurements of responses to light touch, pinprick, and vibration—chronic pain often alters responses to harmless stimuli. Using “hierarchical cluster analysis,” the researchers identified six subgroups of patients with neuropathic pain and two subgroups of patients with non-neuropathic pain based on the patterns of symptoms and signs revealed by the interviews and physical tests. They then used “classification tree analysis” to identify the six questions and ten physical tests that discriminated best between pain subtypes and combined these items into a tool for a Standardized Evaluation of Pain (StEP). Finally, the researchers asked whether StEP, which took 10–15 minutes, could identify patients with radicular back pain and discriminate them from those with axial back pain in an independent group of 137 patients with chronic low back pain. StEP, they report, accurately diagnosed these two conditions and was well accepted by the patients.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that a standardized assessment of pain-related signs and symptoms can provide a simple, quick diagnostic procedure that distinguishes between radicular (neuropathic) and axial (non-neuropathic) low back pain. This distinction is crucial because these types of back pain are best treated in different ways. In addition, the findings suggest that it might be possible to identify additional pain subtypes using StEP. Because these subtypes may represent conditions in which different pain mechanisms are acting, classifying patients in this way might eventually enable physicians to tailor treatments for chronic pain to the specific needs of individual patients rather than, as at present, largely guessing which of the available treatments is likely to work best.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000047.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Giorgio Cruccu and and Andrea Truini
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides a primer on pain in English and Spanish
In its 2006 report on the health status of the US, the National Center for Health Statistics provides a special feature on the epidemiology of pain, including back pain
The Pain Treatment Topics Web site is a resource, sponsored partly by associations and manufacturers, that provides information on all aspects of pain and its treatment for health care professionals and their patients
Medline Plus provides a brief description of pain and of back pain and links to further information on both topics (in English and Spanish)
The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia also has a page on low back pain (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000047
PMCID: PMC2661253  PMID: 19360087
2.  Unspecific chronic low back pain – a simple functional classification tested in a case series of patients with spinal deformities 
Scoliosis  2009;4:4.
Background
Up to now, chronic low back pain without radicular symptoms is not classified and attributed in international literature as being "unspecific". For specific bracing of this patient group we use simple physical tests to predict the brace type the patient is most likely to benefit from. Based on these physical tests we have developed a simple functional classification of "unspecific" low back pain in patients with spinal deformities.
Methods
Between January 2006 and July 2007 we have tested 130 patients (116 females and 14 males) with spinal deformities (average age 45 years, ranging from 14 years to 69) and chronic unspecific low back pain (pain for > 24 months) along with the indication for brace treatment for chronic unspecific low back pain. Some of the patients had symptoms of spinal claudication (n = 16). The "sagittal realignment test" (SRT) was applied, a lumbar hyperextension test, and the "sagittal delordosation test" (SDT). Additionally 3 female patients with spondylolisthesis were tested, including one female with symptoms of spinal claudication and 2 of these patients were 14 years of age and the other 43yrs old at the time of testing.
Results
117 Patients reported significant pain release in the SRT and 13 in the SDT (>/= 2 steps in the Roland & Morris VRS). 3 Patients had no significant pain release in both of the tests (< 2 steps in the Roland & Morris VRS).
Pain intensity was high (3,29) before performing the physical tests (VRS-scale 0–5) and low (1,37) while performing the physical test for the whole sample of patients. The differences where highly significant in the Wilcoxon test (z = -3,79; p < 0,0001).
In the 16 patients who did not respond to the SRT in the manual investigation we found hypermobility at L5/S1 or a spondylolisthesis at level L5/S1. In the other patients who responded well to the SRT loss of lumbar lordosis was the main issue, a finding which, according to scientific literature, correlates well with low back pain. The 3 patients who did not respond to either test had a fair pain reduction in a generally delordosing brace with an isolated small foam pad inserted at the level of L 2/3, leading to a lordosation at this region.
Discussion
With the exception of 3 patients (2.3%) a clear distribution to one of the two classes has been possible. 117 patients were supplied successfully with a sagittal realignment test-brace (physio-logic® brace) and 13 with a sagittal delordosing brace (spondylogic® brace). There were patients with scoliosies and hyperkyphosiesbrace). Therefore a clear distribution of the patients from this sample to either chronic postural or chronic instability back pain was possible. In 2.3% a combined chronic low back pain from the findings obtained seems reasonable.
Conclusion
Chronic unspecific low back pain is possible to clearly be classified physically. This functional classification is necessary to decide on which specific conservative approach (physical therapy, braces) should be used.
Other factors than spinal deformities contribute to chronic low back pain.
doi:10.1186/1748-7161-4-4
PMCID: PMC2663534  PMID: 19222845
3.  Effect of education, occupation and some lifestyle factors on common rheumatic complaints in a Swedish group aged 50-70 years. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1992;51(7):835-843.
The relation between common rheumatic diseases such as osteoarthrosis, arthralgia without definite signs of osteoarthrosis, subacromial shoulder pain, different forms of tendinitis, low back pain and neck pain, and the level of formal education, occupational workload and some lifestyle factors were examined in 502 of 900 randomly selected subjects aged 50-70 years. The group with rheumatic complaints had a higher proportion of subjects with a lower level of formal education (less than or equal to eight years) by bivariate analysis. In multivariate analysis, the major risk factors were: a self rated heavy workload (odds ratio (OR) 6.4), sleep disturbance (OR 3.6), and advanced age (OR 2.0 per five year increase) for osteoarthrosis; a self rated heavy workload for subacromial shoulder pain (OR 5.4) and low back pain (OR 4.8); and a self rated heavy workload (OR 8.0) and female sex (OR 4.8) for neck pain. A self rated heavy workload was strongly correlated with a low level of formal education. A heavy workload (i.e. previous or present principal occupation) could only be confirmed in the groups with neck pain and low back pain on the basis of available occupational classification data. Neck pain was thus associated with occupations entailing repetitive tasks and awkward posture with respect to the neck, shoulders, and back. Low back pain was associated with occupations entailing awkward posture with respect to the neck, shoulders, and back, and occupations entailing exposure to vibration and heavy manual work. It is concluded that, in a cross sectional sample of an elderly population, a low level of formal education and self rated heavy physical work are associated with the occurrence of adult rheumatic complaints, though the self rated heavy workload could only be verified in the groups with neck pain and low back pain. There correlations between heavy work and low back pain, and especially neck pain, suggest that successful prevention would mean a substantial economic gain to the community. Whether the level of education is a marker of risk factors other than a heavy occupational workload needs further evaluation.
PMCID: PMC1004765  PMID: 1385940
4.  Discogenic pain in acute nonspecific low-back pain 
European Spine Journal  2005;14(6):573-577.
Acute nonspecific low-back pain is characterized by the sudden onset and severe unendurable low-back pain without radicular pain or neurological deficit in the lower extremities. The study was carried out using 55 patients who visited our hospital for acute nonspecific low-back pain, who exhibited degeneration on T2-weighted MR images, and underwent intradiscal injection of local anesthetics,steroid and contrast medium. Intervertebral disc sites with an obvious enhanced region in the posterior annulus of the disc on enhanced T1-weghted MR images was selected for intradiscal injection. When no enhaced region was detected, the most severely degenerated disc on T2-weighted MR images was selected. Acute nonspecific low-back pain with an improvement rate of 70% or higher 5min after injection was judged to be discogenic. The clinical characteristics and pathogenesis of discogenic acute nonspecific low-back pain were investigated. Forty of the 55 patients (73%) had discogenic acute nonspecific low-back pain. As for the characteristics of patients, the mean age was 37 years, and onset occurred upon casual daily movements in 18 patients (45%). Nineteen patients (48%) had bilateral low-back pain, and 29 patients (73%) had no tenderness in the paravertebral muscles. On plain X-ray radiograms, degeneration of the disc was normal or mild in 36 patients(91%). On the discograms, a radial tear extending to the posterior annulus was noted in all patients, but epidural leakage was seen only in six patients (15%). The degree of disc degeneration on T2-weighted MR images (Gibson’s classification) was grade 3 in 30 patients (75%). Gadolinium-DTPA enhanced T1-weighted MR images showed an obvious enhanced region in the posterior annulus of the intervertebral disc in 19 patients (48%). As for the clinical characteristics of discogenic acute nonspecific low-back pain, the relatively young adult patients had no tenderness in the paravertebral muscles, and showed moderately degererated intervertebral discs. The pathogenesis of discogenic acute nonspecific low-back pain is mostly considered to be a re-rupture in an asymptomatic ruputured region in the posterior annulus, repaired by granulation tissue, in a moderately degenerated intervertebral disc with a radial tear.
doi:10.1007/s00586-004-0844-8
PMCID: PMC3489234  PMID: 15668774
Discogenic pain; Acute low-back pain; Acute nonspecific low-back pain
5.  The reliability of clinical judgments and criteria associated with mechanisms-based classifications of pain in patients with low back pain disorders: a preliminary reliability study 
Mechanisms-based classifications of pain have been advocated for their potential to aid understanding of clinical presentations of pain and improve clinical outcomes. However, the reliability of mechanisms-based classifications of pain and the clinical criteria upon which such classifications are based are not known. The purpose of this investigation was to assess the inter- and intra-examiner reliability of clinical judgments associated with: (i) mechanisms-based classifications of pain; and (ii) the identification and interpretation of individual symptoms and signs from a Delphi-derived expert consensus list of clinical criteria associated with mechanisms-based classifications of pain in patients with low back (±leg) pain disorders. The inter- and intra-examiner reliability of an examination protocol performed by two physiotherapists on two separate cohorts of 40 patients was assessed. Data were analysed using kappa and percentage of agreement values. Inter- and intra-examiner agreement associated with clinicians’ mechanisms-based classifications of low back (±leg) pain was ‘substantial’ (kappa  = 0.77; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.57–0.96; % agreement  = 87.5) and ‘almost perfect’ (kappa  = 0.96; 95% CI: 0.92–1.00; % agreement = 92.5), respectively. Sixty-eight and 95% of items on the clinical criteria checklist demonstrated clinically acceptable (kappa ⩾ 0.61 or % agreement ⩾ 80%) inter- and intra-examiner reliability, respectively. The results of this study provide preliminary evidence supporting the reliability of clinical judgments associated with mechanisms-based classifications of pain in patients with low back (±leg) pain disorders. The reliability of mechanisms-based classifications of pain should be investigated using larger samples of patients and multiple independent examiners.
doi:10.1179/106698110X12640740712897
PMCID: PMC3101074  PMID: 21655393
Classification; Low back pain; Pain mechanisms; Reliability
6.  Low back pain (acute) 
BMJ Clinical Evidence  2008;2008:1102.
Introduction
Low back pain (LBP) affects about 70% of people in resource-rich countries at some point. Acute low back pain is usually perceived as self-limiting; however, one year later, as many as 33% of people still have moderate-intensity pain and 15% have severe pain. It has a high recurrence rate; 75% of those with a first episode have a recurrence. Although acute episodes may resolve completely, they may also increase in severity and duration over time.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of oral drug treatments for low back pain? What are the effects of local injections for low back pain? What are the effects of non-drug treatments for low back pain? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to May 2007 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 34 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: acupuncture, advice to stay active, analgesics (paracetamol, opioids), back exercises, back schools, bed rest, behavioural therapy, electromyographic biofeedback, epidural corticosteroid injections, lumbar supports, massage, multidisciplinary treatment programmes, muscle relaxants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), spinal manipulation (in the short term), temperature treatments (short wave diathermy, ultrasound, ice, heat), traction, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
Key Points
Low back pain is pain, muscle tension, or stiffness, localised below the costal margin and above the inferior gluteal folds, with or without referred or radicular leg pain (sciatica), and is defined as acute when pain persists for less than 12 weeks. Low back pain affects about 70% of people in resource-rich countries at some point.Acute low back pain is usually self-limiting, although 2-7% develop chronic pain. Acute low back pain has a high recurrence rate with less-painful symptoms recurring in 50-80% of people within a year; one year later, as high as 33% still experience moderate-intensity pain and 15% experience severe pain.
NSAIDs have been shown to effectively improve symptoms compared with placebo. However, their use is associated with gastrointestinal adverse effects. Muscle relaxants may also reduce pain and improve overall clinical assessment, but are associated with some severe adverse effects including drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea.The studies examining the effects of analgesics such as paracetamol or opioids were generally too small to detect any clinically important differences.
We found no studies examining the effectiveness of epidural injections of corticosteroids in treating people with acute low back pain.
With regard to non-drug treatments, advice to stay active (be it as a single treatment or in combination with other interventions such as back schools, a graded activity programme, or behavioural counselling) seems the most effective. Spinal manipulation (in the short term) also seems to reduce pain, but not functional outcomes, compared with sham treatments.We found insufficient evidence to judge the effectiveness of acupuncture, back schools, behavioural therapy, massage, multidisciplinary treatment programmes (for either acute or subacute low back pain), ortemperature treatments in treating people with acute low back pain.We found no evidence examining the effectiveness of electromyographic biofeedback, lumbar supports, traction, or TENS in the treatment of acute low back pain. Back exercises do not seem to increase recovery time compared with no treatment, although there is considerable heterogeneity among studies with regard to the definition of back exercise. There is also disparity among studies in the definition of generic and specific back exercise. Bed rest does not improve symptoms any more effectively than other treatments, but does produce a number of adverse effects including joint stiffness, muscle wasting, loss of bone mineral density, pressure sores, and venous thromboembolism.
PMCID: PMC2907975  PMID: 19445792
7.  Low back pain (acute) 
Clinical Evidence  2011;2011:1102.
Introduction
Low back pain affects about 70% of people in resource-rich countries at some point in their lives. Acute low back pain can be self-limiting; however, 1 year after an initial episode, as many as 33% of people still have moderate-intensity pain and 15% have severe pain. Acute low back pain has a high recurrence rate; 75% of those with a first episode have a recurrence. Although acute episodes may resolve completely, they may increase in severity and duration over time.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of oral drug treatments for acute low back pain? What are the effects of local injections for acute low back pain? What are the effects of non-drug treatments for acute low back pain? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to December 2009 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 49 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: acupuncture, advice to stay active, analgesics (paracetamol, opioids), back exercises, back schools, bed rest, behavioural therapy, electromyographic biofeedback, epidural corticosteroid injections, lumbar supports, massage, multidisciplinary treatment programmes, muscle relaxants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), spinal manipulation, temperature treatments (short-wave diathermy, ultrasound, ice, heat), traction, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
Key Points
Low back pain is pain, muscle tension, or stiffness, localised below the costal margin and above the inferior gluteal folds, with or without referred or radicular leg pain (sciatica), and is defined as acute when pain persists for <12 weeks. Low back pain affects about 70% of people in resource-rich countries at some point in their lives.Acute low back pain may be self-limiting, although there is a high recurrence rate with less-painful symptoms recurring in 50% to 80% of people within 1 year of the initial episode; 1 year later, as many as 33% of people still experience moderate-intensity pain and 15% experience severe pain.
NSAIDs have been shown to effectively improve symptoms compared with placebo. However, their use is associated with gastrointestinal adverse effects. Muscle relaxants may also reduce pain and improve overall clinical assessment, but are associated with some severe adverse effects including drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea.The studies examining the effects of analgesics such as paracetamol or opioids were generally too small to detect any clinically important differences.
We found no studies examining the effectiveness of epidural injections of corticosteroids in treating people with acute low back pain.
With regard to non-drug treatments, advice to stay active (be it as a single treatment or in combination with other interventions such as back schools, a graded activity programme, or behavioural counselling) may be effective. We don't know whether spinal manipulation improves pain or function compared with sham treatments.We found insufficient evidence to judge the effectiveness of acupuncture, back schools, behavioural therapy, massage, multidisciplinary treatment programmes (for either acute or subacute low back pain), lumbar supports, TENS, or temperature treatments in treating people with acute low back pain.We found no evidence examining the effectiveness of electromyographic biofeedback or traction in the treatment of acute low back pain. Back exercises may decrease recovery time compared with no treatment, but there is considerable heterogeneity among studies with regard to the definition of back exercise. There is a large disparity among studies in the definition of generic versus specific back exercise. Bed rest does not improve symptoms any more effectively than other treatments, but does produce a number of adverse effects including joint stiffness, muscle wasting, loss of bone mineral density, pressure sores, and venous thromboembolism.
PMCID: PMC3217769  PMID: 21549023
8.  A Treatment-Based Classification Approach to Examination and Intervention of Lumbar Disorders 
Sports Health  2011;3(4):362-372.
Context:
Low back injuries are a common occurrence in athletes and often result in missed competition and practice time. The examination of athletes with low back pain commonly involves diagnostic imaging, which rarely guides the clinician in selecting the appropriate interventions.
Data Acquisition:
All years of PubMed, CINAHL, PEDro, and SPORTDiscus were searched in December 2010. Keywords included treatment based classification and lumbar with the following terms: rehabilitation, treatment, athlete, low back pain, sports, and outcomes.
Results:
A treatment-based classification approach is preferred for the management of the athlete with low back pain. The treatment-based classification approach involves 3 steps. First is to screen the patient for potentially serious conditions that are not appropriate for conservative management. Second is staging the athlete (based on current disability ratings and ability to perform functional activities). Finally, treatment interventions are selected on the basis of the athlete’s signs and symptoms.
Conclusion:
The treatment-based classification scheme provides the clinician with a reliable algorithm for matching an athlete’s symptom presentation to the optimal intervention, potentially reducing participation loss. Managing individuals with low back pain using a treatment-based classification approach significantly reduces disability and pain compared with current clinical practice guideline standards.
doi:10.1177/1941738111410378
PMCID: PMC3445202  PMID: 23016029
treatment-based classification; lumbar; low back pain; sports
9.  Efficacy of classification-based cognitive functional therapy in patients with non-specific chronic low back pain: A randomized controlled trial 
Background: Non-specific chronic low back pain disorders have been proven resistant to change, and there is still a lack of clear evidence for one specific treatment intervention being superior to another.
Methods: This randomized controlled trial aimed to investigate the efficacy of a behavioural approach to management, classification-based cognitive functional therapy, compared with traditional manual therapy and exercise. Linear mixed models were used to estimate the group differences in treatment effects. Primary outcomes at 12-month follow-up were Oswestry Disability Index and pain intensity, measured with numeric rating scale. Inclusion criteria were as follows: age between 18 and 65 years, diagnosed with non-specific chronic low back pain for >3 months, localized pain from T12 to gluteal folds, provoked with postures, movement and activities. Oswestry Disability Index had to be >14% and pain intensity last 14 days >2/10. A total of 121 patients were randomized to either classification-based cognitive functional therapy group n = 62) or manual therapy and exercise group (n > = 59).
Results: The classification-based cognitive functional therapy group displayed significantly superior outcomes to the manual therapy and exercise group, both statistically (p < 0.001) and clinically. For Oswestry Disability Index, the classification-based cognitive functional therapy group improved by 13.7 points, and the manual therapy and exercise group by 5.5 points. For pain intensity, the classification-based cognitive functional therapy improved by 3.2 points, and the manual therapy and exercise group by 1.5 points.
Conclusions: The classification-based cognitive functional therapy produced superior outcomes for non-specific chronic low back pain compared with traditional manual therapy and exercise.
doi:10.1002/j.1532-2149.2012.00252.x
PMCID: PMC3796866  PMID: 23208945
10.  Interrater Reliability of a New Classification System for Patients with Neural Low Back-Related Leg Pain 
The aim of this study was to investigate the reliability of a new classification system for low back-related leg pain arising from neural tissue dysfunction. Leg pain is a frequent accompaniment to back pain and is an indicator of the severity and prognosis of the disorder. For optimal patient care, treatment should be directed according to the identified pathophysiological mechanisms. The authors have proposed a sub-classification of neural low back-related leg pain into four categories, each requiring a different management strategy: Central Sensitization (CS), comprising major features of sensitization of the somatosensory system; Denervation (D), arising from significant axonal compromise without evidence of major central nervous system changes; Peripheral Nerve Sensitization (PNS), arising from nerve trunk inflammation without clinical evidence of significant denervation; and Musculoskeletal pain (M), referred from non-neural structures such as the disc or facet joints. The purpose of this study was to investigate the interrater reliability of this classification system. Forty consecutive patients with unilateral low back-related leg pain were independently assessed by five pairs of examiners using a physical examination protocol, screening for central sensitization of the somatosensory system, neurological deficit, and nerve tissue mechano-sensitization. Subjects were classified as follows: CS 30%, D 27.5%, PNS 10%, and M 32.5%. Interrater reliability was good with 80% agreement and a k of 0.72 (95% Confidence Interval (CI) .57–.86). The findings of the study demonstrate that patients with low back-related leg pain can be reliably classified to one of the four proposed groups.
PMCID: PMC2700493  PMID: 20046553
Classification; Interrater Reliability; Leg Pain; Low Back Pain
11.  Is Immediate Imaging Important in Managing Low Back Pain? 
Journal of Athletic Training  2011;46(1):99-102.
Abstract
Reference:
Chou R, Fu R, Carrino JA, Deyo RA. Imaging strategies for low-back pain: systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet. 2009;373(9662):463–472.
Clinical Questions:
In patients with low back pain (LBP) who do not have indications of a serious underlying condition, does routine, immediate lumbar imaging result in improved patient outcomes when compared with clinical care without immediate imaging?
Data Sources:
Studies were identified by searching MEDLINE (1966 through first week of August 2008) and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (third quarter of 2008). The reference lists of identified studies were manually reviewed for additional citations. The search terms spine, low-back pain, diagnostic imaging, and randomized controlled trials were used in both databases. The complete search strategy was made available as an online supplement.
Study Selection:
The search criteria were applied to the articles obtained from the electronic searches and the subsequent manual searches with no language restrictions. This systematic review and meta-analysis included randomized, controlled trials that compared immediate, routine lumbar imaging (or routine provision of imaging findings) with usual clinical care without immediate lumbar imaging (or not routinely providing results of imaging) for LBP without indications of serious underlying conditions.
Data Extraction:
Data extraction and assessment of study quality were well described. The trials assessed one or more of the following outcomes: pain, function, mental health, quality of life, patient satisfaction, and overall patient-reported improvement. Two reviewers independently appraised citations considered potentially relevant, with disagreements between reviewers resolved by consensus. Two independent reviewers abstracted data from the trials and assessed quality with modified Cochrane Back Review Group criteria. The criterion for blinding of patients and providers was excluded because of lack of applicability to imaging studies. In addition, the criterion of co-intervention similarity was excluded because a potential effect of different imaging strategies is to alter subsequent treatment decisions. As a result of excluding these criteria, quality ratings were based on the remaining 8 criteria. The authors resolved disagreements about quality ratings through discussion and consensus. Trials that met 4 or more of the 8 criteria were classified as higher quality, whereas those that met 3 or fewer of the 8 criteria were classified as lower quality. In addition, the authors categorized duration of symptoms as acute (<4 weeks), subacute (4–12 weeks), or chronic (>12 weeks). The investigators also contacted the study authors for additional data if included outcomes were not published or if median (rather than mean) outcomes were reported. Statistical analysis was conducted on the primary outcomes of improvement in pain or function. Secondary outcomes of improvement in mental health, quality of life, patient satisfaction, and overall improvement were also analyzed. Outcomes were categorized as short term (≤3 months), long term (>6 months to ≤1 year), or extended (>1 year). For continuous outcomes, standardized mean differences (SMDs) of interventions for change between baseline and follow-up measurements were calculated. In studies reporting the same pain (visual analog scale [VAS] or Short Form-36 bodily pain score) or function (Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire [RDQ]) outcomes, weighted mean differences (WMDs) were calculated. In all analyses, lower pain and function scores indicated better outcomes. For quality-of-life and mental health outcomes, higher scores indicated improved outcomes. All statistical analyses were performed with Stata 10.0. For outcomes in which SMDs were calculated, values of 0.2 to 0.5 were considered small, 0.5 to 0.8 were considered moderate, and values greater than 0.8 were considered large. For WMDs, mean improvements of 5 to 10 points on a 100-point scale (or equivalent) were considered small, 10-point to 20-point changes were considered moderate, and changes greater than 20 points were considered large. For the RDQ, mean improvements of 1 to 2 points were termed small, and improvements of 2 to 5 points were termed moderate.
Main Results:
The total number of citations identified using the search criteria was 479 articles and abstracts. Of these, 466 were excluded because either they were not randomized trials or they did not use imaging strategies for LBP. At this step, 13 articles were retrieved for further analysis. This analysis resulted in 3 additional articles being excluded (1 was not a randomized trial and the other 2 compared 2 imaging techniques rather than immediate imaging versus no imaging). The final step resulted in the inclusion of 6 trials reported in 10 publications for the meta-analysis. In the studies meeting the inclusion criteria, 4 assessed lumbar radiography and 2 assessed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans. In these 6 trials, 1804 patients were randomly assigned to the intervention group. The duration of patient follow-up ranged from 3 weeks to 2 years. In addition, 1 trial excluded patients with sciatica or other radiculopathy symptoms, whereas another did not report the proportion of patients with these symptoms. In the other 4 studies, the proportion of patients with sciatica or radiculopathy ranged from 24% to 44%. Of the included trials, 3 compared immediate lumbar radiography with usual clinical care without immediate radiography, and a fourth study compared immediate lumbar radiography and a brief educational intervention with lumbar radiography if no improvement was seen by 3 weeks. The final 2 studies assessed advanced imaging modalities. Specifically, one group compared immediate MRI or CT with usual clinical care without advanced imaging in patients with primarily chronic LBP (82% with LBP for >3 months) who were referred to a surgeon. In the other advanced imaging study, all patients with LBP for <3 weeks underwent MRI and were then randomized to routine notification of results or to notification of results only if clinically indicated. With respect to study quality, 5 trials met at least 4 of the 8 predetermined quality criteria, leading to a classification of higher quality. In addition, 5 trials were included in the primary meta-analysis on pain or function improvement at 1 or more follow-up periods. With regard to short-term and long-term improvements in pain, no differences were noted between routine, immediate lumbar imaging and usual clinical care without immediate imaging (Table 1). In studies using the VAS pain score, the WMD (0.62, 95% confidence interval [CI]  =  0.03, 1.21) at short-term follow-up slightly favored no immediate imaging. No differences in outcome were seen in studies using the Short Form-36 bodily pain score. No improvements in function at short-term or long-term follow-up were noted between imaging strategies. Specifically, short-term function measured with the RDQ in 3 studies showed a WMD of 0.48 points (95% CI  =  −1.39, 2.35) between imaging strategies, whereas long-term function in 3 studies, also measured with the RDQ, showed a WMD of 0.33 points (95% CI  =  −0.65, 1.32). One included trial reported pain outcomes at extended (2-year) follow-up and found no differences between imaging strategies for pain (Short Form-36 bodily pain or Aberdeen pain score), with SMDs of −2.7 (95% CI  =  −6.17, 0.79) and −1.6 (−4.04, 0.84), respectively. The outcomes between immediate imaging and usual clinical care without immediate imaging did not differ for short-term follow-up in those studies reporting quality of life (SMD  =  −0.10, 95% CI  =  −0.53, 0.34), mental health (SMD  =  0.12, 95% CI  =  −0.37, 0.62), or overall improvement (mean risk ratio  =  0.83, 95% CI  =  0.65, 1.06). In those studies reporting long-term follow-up periods, similar results can be seen for quality of life (SMD  =  −0.15, 95% CI  =  −0.33, 0.04) and mental health (SMD  =  0.01, 95% CI  =  −0.32, 0.34). In the study reporting extended follow-up, immediate imaging was not better in terms of improving quality of life (SMD  =  0.02, 95% CI  =  −0.02, 0.07) or mental health (SMD  =  −1.50, 95% CI  =  −4.09, 1.09) when compared with usual clinical care without immediate imaging. In the included studies, no cases of cancer, infection, cauda equina syndrome, or other serious diagnoses were reported in patients randomly assigned to either imaging strategy.
Conclusions:
Available evidence indicates that immediate, routine lumbar spine imaging in patients with LBP and without features indicating a serious underlying condition did not improve outcomes compared with usual clinical care without immediate imaging. Clinical care without immediate imaging seems to result in no increased odds of failure in identifying serious underlying conditions in patients without risk factors for these conditions. In addition to lacking clinical benefit, routine lumbar imaging is associated with radiation exposure (radiography and CT) and increased direct expenses for patients and may lead to unnecessary procedures. This evidence confirms that clinicians should refrain from routine, immediate lumbar imaging in primary care patients with nonspecific, acute or subacute LBP and no indications of underlying serious conditions. Specific consideration of patient expectations about the value of imaging was not addressed here; however, this aspect must be considered to avoid unnecessary imaging while also meeting patient expectations and increasing patient satisfaction.
doi:10.4085/1062-6050-46.1.99
PMCID: PMC3017496  PMID: 21214357
spine; assessment; outcomes
12.  The PRESLO study: evaluation of a global secondary low back pain prevention program for health care personnel in a hospital setting. Multicenter, randomized intervention trial 
Background
Common low back pain represents a major public health problem in terms of its direct cost to health care and its socio-economic repercussions. Ten percent of individuals who suffer from low back pain evolve toward a chronic case and as such are responsible for 75 to 80% of the direct cost of low back pain. It is therefore imperative to highlight the predictive factors of low back pain chronification in order to lighten the economic burden of low back pain-related invalidity. Despite being particularly affected by low back pain, Hospices Civils de Lyon (HCL) personnel have never been offered a specific, tailor-made treatment plan. The PRESLO study (with PRESLO referring to Secondary Low Back Pain Prevention, or in French, PREvention Secondaire de la LOmbalgie), proposed by HCL occupational health services and the Centre Médico-Chirurgical et de Réadaptation des Massues – Croix Rouge Française, is a randomized trial that aims to evaluate the feasibility and efficiency of a global secondary low back pain prevention program for the low back pain sufferers among HCL hospital personnel, a population at risk for recurrence and chronification. This program, which is based on the concept of physical retraining, employs a multidisciplinary approach uniting physical activity, cognitive education about low back pain and lumbopelvic morphotype analysis. No study targeting populations at risk for low back pain chronification has as yet evaluated the efficiency of lighter secondary prevention programs.
Methods/Design
This study is a two-arm parallel randomized controlled trial proposed to all low back pain sufferers among HCL workers, included between October 2008 and July 2011 and followed over two years. The personnel following their usual treatment (control group) and those following the global prevention program in addition to their usual treatment (intervention group) are compared in terms of low back pain recurrence and the impairments measured at the beginning and the end of the study. The global prevention program is composed of a two-hour information session about low back pain and pain pathways, followed by five weekly 90-min exercise sessions with one physiotherapist per group of eight to ten personnel. A booklet for home use with patient-managed exercise instructions and information (The Back Book) is given to each participant at the end of the program.
An X-ray assessment of the entire spinal column of each participant (in both the control and intervention groups) is performed at the onset of the study in order to analyze sagittal spinopelvic balance as well as lombopelvic morphotype.
Discussion
The results of this study, which is innovative and unique in France, will be available in 2014 and will make it possible to draw conclusions regarding the program’s impact on the risk of recurrence and chronification of low back pain.
Trial registration
http://www.clinicaltrials.gov # NCT00782925
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-234
PMCID: PMC3579727  PMID: 23181446
13.  Neuromuscular Fatigue During a Modified Biering-Sørensen Test in Subjects with and Without Low Back Pain 
Studies employing modified Biering-Sørenson tests have reported that low back endurance is related to the potential for developing low back pain. Understanding the manner in which spinal musculature fatigues in people with and without LBP is necessary to gain insight into the sensitivity of the modified Biering-Sørenson test to differentiate back health. Twenty male volunteers were divided into a LBP group of subjects with current subacute or a history of LBP that limited their activity (n = 10) and a control group (n = 10). The median frequency of the fast Fourier transform was calculated from bilateral surface electromyography (EMG) of the upper lumbar erector spinae (ULES), lower lumbar erector spinae (LLES) and biceps femoris while maintaining a prescribed modified Biering-Sørensen test position and exerting isometric forces equivalent to 100, 120, 140 and 160% of the estimated mass of the head-arms-trunk (HAT) segment. Time to failure was also investigated across the percentages of HAT. Fatigue time decreased with increasing load and differences between groups increased as load increased, however these differences were not significant. Significant differences in the EMG median frequency between groups occurred in the right biceps femoris (p ≤ 0.05) with significant pairwise differences occurring at 140% for the left biceps femoris and at 160% for the right biceps femoris. There were significant pairwise differences at 120% for average EMG of the right biceps femoris and at 140% for the right ULES, and right and left biceps femoris (p ≤ 0.05). The modified Biering-Sørensen test as usually performed at 100% HAT is not sufficient to demonstrate significant differences between controls and subjects with varying degrees of mild back disability based on the Oswestry classification.
Key pointsThe results do not wholly support the modified Biering-Sørensen test utilizing resistance of 100% HAT to discern differences in fatigue in subjects with mild low back pain.A greater activation of the biceps femoris by low back pain individuals probably contributed to the lack of significant differences in back fatigue times.The possibility exists that subjects with more sophisticated strategies could yield higher fatigue times despite inferior neuromuscular fatigue and the existence of low back pain.
PMCID: PMC3794498  PMID: 24149491
Endurance; electromyography; median frequency; back muscles; healthy subjects
14.  An updated overview of clinical guidelines for the management of non-specific low back pain in primary care 
European Spine Journal  2010;19(12):2075-2094.
The aim of this study was to present and compare the content of (inter)national clinical guidelines for the management of low back pain. To rationalise the management of low back pain, evidence-based clinical guidelines have been issued in many countries. Given that the available scientific evidence is the same, irrespective of the country, one would expect these guidelines to include more or less similar recommendations regarding diagnosis and treatment. We updated a previous review that included clinical guidelines published up to and including the year 2000. Guidelines were included that met the following criteria: the target group consisted mainly of primary health care professionals, and the guideline was published in English, German, Finnish, Spanish, Norwegian, or Dutch. Only one guideline per country was included: the one most recently published. This updated review includes national clinical guidelines from 13 countries and 2 international clinical guidelines from Europe published from 2000 until 2008. The content of the guidelines appeared to be quite similar regarding the diagnostic classification (diagnostic triage) and the use of diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. Consistent features for acute low back pain were the early and gradual activation of patients, the discouragement of prescribed bed rest and the recognition of psychosocial factors as risk factors for chronicity. For chronic low back pain, consistent features included supervised exercises, cognitive behavioural therapy and multidisciplinary treatment. However, there are some discrepancies for recommendations regarding spinal manipulation and drug treatment for acute and chronic low back pain. The comparison of international clinical guidelines for the management of low back pain showed that diagnostic and therapeutic recommendations are generally similar. There are also some differences which may be due to a lack of strong evidence regarding these topics or due to differences in local health care systems. The implementation of these clinical guidelines remains a challenge for clinical practice and research.
doi:10.1007/s00586-010-1502-y
PMCID: PMC2997201  PMID: 20602122
Low back pain; Clinical guidelines; Review; Diagnosis; Treatment
15.  Is a history of work-related low back injury associated with prevalent low back pain and depression in the general population? 
Background
Little is known about the role of prior occupational low back injury in future episodes of low back pain and disability in the general population. We conducted a study to determine if a lifetime history of work-related low back injury is associated with prevalent severity-graded low back pain, depressive symptoms, or both, in the general population.
Methods
We used data from the Saskatchewan Health and Back Pain Survey – a population-based cross-sectional survey mailed to a random, stratified sample of 2,184 Saskatchewan adults 20 to 69 years of age in 1995. Information on the main independent variable was gathered by asking respondents whether they had ever injured their low back at work. Our outcomes, the 6-month period prevalence of severity-graded low back pain and depressive symptoms during the past week, were measured with valid and reliable questionnaires. The associations between prior work-related low back injury and our outcomes were estimated through multinomial and binary multivariable logistic regression with adjustment for age, gender, and other important covariates.
Results
Fifty-five percent of the eligible population participated. Of the 1,086 participants who responded to the question about the main independent variable, 38.0% reported a history of work-related low back injury. A history of work-related low back injury was positively associated with low intensity/low disability low back pain (OR, 3.66; 95%CI, 2.48–5.42), with high intensity/low disability low back pain (OR, 4.03; 95%CI, 2.41–6.76), and with high disability low back pain (OR, 6.76; 95%CI, 3.80–12.01). No association was found between a history of work-related low back injury and depression (OR, 0.85; 95%CI, 0.55–1.30).
Conclusion
Our analysis shows an association between past occupational low back injury and increasing severity of prevalent low back pain, but not depression. These results suggest that past work-related low back injury may be an important risk factor for future episodes of low back pain and disability in the general population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-9-22
PMCID: PMC2277439  PMID: 18284680
16.  Prevalence of low back pain by anatomic location and intensity in an occupational population 
Background
Low Back Pain (LBP) is a common and costly problem, with variation in prevalence. Epidemiological reports of rating of pain intensity and location within the low back area are rare. The objective is to describe LBP in a large, multi-center, occupational cohort detailing both point and 1-month period prevalence of LBP by location and intensity measures at baseline.
Methods
In this cross-sectional report from a prospective cohort study, 828 participants were workers enrolled from 30 facilities performing a variety of manual material handling tasks. All participants underwent a structured interview detailing pain rating and location. Symptoms in the lower extremities, demographic and other data were collected. Body mass indices were measured. Outcomes are pain rating (0–10) in five defined lumbar back areas (i) LBP in the past month and (ii) LBP on the day of enrollment. Pain ratings were reported on a 0–10 scale and subsequently collapsed with ratings of 1–3, 4–6 and 7–10 classified as low, medium and high respectively.
Results
172 (20.8%) and 364 (44.0%) of the 828 participants reported pain on the day of enrollment or within the past month, respectively. The most common area of LBP was in the immediate paraspinal area with 130 (75.6%) participants with point prevalence LBP and 278 (77.4%) with 1-month period prevalence reported having LBP in the immediate paraspinal area. Among those 364 reporting 1-month period prevalence pain, ratings varied widely with 116 (31.9%) reporting ratings classified as low, 170 (46.7%) medium and 78 (21.4%) providing high pain ratings in any location. Among the 278 reporting 1-month period prevalence pain in the immediate paraspinal area, 89 (32.0%) reported ratings classified as low, 129 (46.4%), medium and 60 (21.6%) high pain ratings.
Conclusions
Pain ratings varied widely, however less variability was seen in pain location, with immediate paraspinal region being the most common. Variations may suggest different etiological factors related to LBP. Aggregation of different locations of pain or different intensities of pain into one binary classification of LBP may result in loss of information which may potentially be useful in prevention or treatment of LBP.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-283
PMCID: PMC4153910  PMID: 25146722
Low back pain; Point prevalence; 1-month period prevalence; Intensity; Location; Epidemiological; Cross-sectional analysis
17.  Low back pain in military recruits in relation to social background and previous low back pain. A cross-sectional and prospective observational survey 
Background
Traditionally, studies on the etiology of low back pain have been carried out in adult populations. However, since low back pain often appears early in life, more research on young populations is needed. This study focuses on the importance of social background factors and previous low back pain in the development of low back pain in military recruits.
Methods
During a three-month period, Danish military recruits with different social backgrounds live and work under the same conditions. Thus, there is an opportunity to investigate the influence of social background on the development of low back pain, when persons are removed from their usual environment and submitted to a number of new stressors. In addition, the importance of the recruits' previous low back pain history in relation to low back pain during military service was studied. This was done by means of questionnaires to 1,711 recruits before and after this three-month period.
Results
Sedentary occupation was negatively associated with long-lasting low back pain (>30 days during the past year) at baseline with an odds ratios of 0.55 (95% CI: 0.33–0.90). This effect vanished during service. Having parents with higher education increased the risk of low back pain during service (OR: 1.9;1.2–3.0, for the highest educated group), but not of the consequences (leg pain and exemption from duty), whereas high IQ decreased the risk of these consequences (odds ratios as low as 0.2;0.1–0.8 for exemption from duty in the group with highest IQ). Long-lasting low back pain prior to service increased the risk of long-lasting low back pain (OR: 4.8;2.1–10.8), leg pain (OR: 3.3;1.3–8.3) and exemption from duty during service (OR: 5.9;2.4–14.8).
Conclusion
Sedentary occupation is negatively associated with low back pain at baseline. This protective effect disappears, when the person becomes physically active. For predicting trouble related to the low back during service, the duration of low back pain prior to service and IQ-level are the most important factors.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-6-25
PMCID: PMC1180830  PMID: 15918894
18.  Yoga vs. physical therapy vs. education for chronic low back pain in predominantly minority populations: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2014;15:67.
Background
Chronic low back pain causes substantial morbidity and cost to society while disproportionately impacting low-income and minority adults. Several randomized controlled trials show yoga is an effective treatment. However, the comparative effectiveness of yoga and physical therapy, a common mainstream treatment for chronic low back pain, is unknown.
Methods/Design
This is a randomized controlled trial for 320 predominantly low-income minority adults with chronic low back pain, comparing yoga, physical therapy, and education. Inclusion criteria are adults 18–64 years old with non-specific low back pain lasting ≥12 weeks and a self-reported average pain intensity of ≥4 on a 0–10 scale. Recruitment takes place at Boston Medical Center, an urban academic safety-net hospital and seven federally qualified community health centers located in diverse neighborhoods. The 52-week study has an initial 12-week Treatment Phase where participants are randomized in a 2:2:1 ratio into i) a standardized weekly hatha yoga class supplemented by home practice; ii) a standardized evidence-based exercise therapy protocol adapted from the Treatment Based Classification method, individually delivered by a physical therapist and supplemented by home practice; and iii) education delivered through a self-care book. Co-primary outcome measures are 12-week pain intensity measured on an 11-point numerical rating scale and back-specific function measured using the modified Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire. In the subsequent 40-week Maintenance Phase, yoga participants are re-randomized in a 1:1 ratio to either structured maintenance yoga classes or home practice only. Physical therapy participants are similarly re-randomized to either five booster sessions or home practice only. Education participants continue to follow recommendations of educational materials. We will also assess cost effectiveness from the perspectives of the individual, insurers, and society using claims databases, electronic medical records, self-report cost data, and study records. Qualitative data from interviews will add subjective detail to complement quantitative data.
Trial registration
This trial is registered in ClinicalTrials.gov, with the ID number: NCT01343927.
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-67
PMCID: PMC3944007  PMID: 24568299
Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Cost effectiveness; Low back pain; Physical therapy; Randomized controlled trial; Yoga
19.  Low back pain in junior Australian Rules football: a cross-sectional survey of elite juniors, non-elite juniors and non-football playing controls 
Background
Low back pain in junior Australian Rules footballers has not been investigated despite findings that back pain is more prevalent, severe and frequent in senior footballers than non-athletic controls and findings that adolescent back pain is a strong predictor for adult back pain. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence, intensity, quality and frequency of low back pain in junior Australian Rules footballers and a control group and to compare this data between groups.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey of male non-elite junior (n = 60) and elite junior players (n = 102) was conducted along with a convenience sample of non-footballers (school children) (n = 100). Subjects completed a self-reported questionnaire on low back pain incorporating the Quadruple Visual Analogue Scale and McGill Pain Questionnaire (short form), along with additional questions adapted from an Australian epidemiological study. Linear Mixed Model (Residual Maximum Likelihood) methods were used to compare differences between groups. Log-linear models were used in the analysis of contingency tables.
Results
For current, average and best low back pain levels, elite junior players had higher pain levels (p < 0.001), with no difference noted between non-elite juniors and controls for average and best low back pain. For low back pain at worst, there were significant differences in the mean pain scores. The difference between elite juniors and non-elite juniors (p = 0.040) and between elite juniors and controls (p < 0.001) was significant, but not between non-elite juniors and controls. The chance of suffering low back pain increases from 45% for controls, through 55% for non-elite juniors to 66.7% for elite juniors. The chance that a pain sufferer experiences chronic pain is 16% for controls and 41% for non-elite junior and elite junior players. Elite junior players experienced low back pain more frequently (p = 0.002), with no difference in frequency noted between non-elite juniors and controls. Over 25% of elite junior and non-elite junior players reported that back pain impacted their performance some of the time or greater.
Conclusions
This study demonstrated that when compared with non-elite junior players and non-footballers of a similar age, elite junior players experience back pain more severely and frequently and have higher prevalence and chronicity rates.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-241
PMCID: PMC2967511  PMID: 20958973
20.  Prevention of relapsing backache 
Background
The condition of non-specific back pain is characterized by high prevalence, non satisfactory therapeutic options and severe socioeconomic consequences. Therefore prevention seems an attractive option to downsize the problem. However, the construction of effective preventive measures is complicated by the obscure aetiology of the condition, the multidimensionality of risk and prognostic factors (bio psychosocial model!) and the variability of its natural as well as clinical course. This led to the development of a wide variety of preventive measures: e. g. exercise programs, educational measures (including back school), ergonomic modification of the work environment, mechanical supports (e. g. back belts) as well as multidisciplinary interventions. For two reasons the workplace seems to be a suitable setting for prevention. First, because a number of strong risk factors are associated with working conditions and second, because it allows addressing a large proportion of the adult population. Against this background the assessment at hand sets out to answer the following questions:
What is the amount and methodological quality of the available scientific literature on the effectiveness of back pain prevention in the workplace environment? What are effective measures for the prevention of back pain and its consequences in the workplace environment and how effective are they? Is back pain prevention in the workplace environment cost-effective? Is there a need for more research? As primary outcomes for effectiveness the assessment will focus on time lost from work and the frequency and duration of episodes with back pain. The preventive measures assessed belong to the following categories: exercise programs, educational and information measures, multidimensional interventions, back belts, lifting teams and ergonomic interventions.
Methods
The assessment is based on a systematic review of the published literature according to the methodological requirements of DAHTA. Proceedings of the electronic literature searches are documented in the appendix. In addition references of review articles were searched. Methodological quality of publications (systematic reviews, HTA reports) was assessed using the checklists developed by the German Scientific Working Group for Technology Assessment in Health Care (GSWGTAHC) or with the Jadad-Score (controlled trials) respectively. Due to the large number of relevant publications the assessment is mainly based on data reported by systematic reviews and supplemented by the results of newer trials. A separate economic assessment was not performed because of the low amount of available data. An assessment of ethical, legal and social impact was omitted due to resource constraints.
Results
For preventive interventions based on exercise programs most of the analysed trials demonstrate some effectiveness. Due to the heterogeneity of the programs it is not possible to conclude whether positive effects are associated with a special type, duration or intensity of exercise. For purely educational measures or information strategies applied in a workplace setting the available trials were not able to demonstrate effectiveness. Back school programs, which in addition to theoretical instructions offer intensive exercising may in the short term, be successful in reducing the incidence of new episodes of back pain. Some trials in high risk groups demonstrate effectiveness of multidimensional interventions on time lost from work. These programs include education and exercise as well as cognitive behavioural interventions to change pain perception. The assessment of the benefits of back belts for the prevention of back pain is based on results of high quality efficacy as well as effectiveness trials. Their results imply for the otherwise healthy working population no protective effect of back belts on time lost from work due to back pain, on the incidence of painful episodes or on days with impairment by back pain. So far there are no data from controlled trials that demonstrate the effectiveness of "lifting teams" in nursing care to prevent back pain or its consequences. However, results from uncontrolled pilot studies indicate a potential for effectiveness. Among "ergonomic interventions" three different approaches have to be distinguished: interventions addressing changes of the workplace setting, interventions addressing the individual's behaviour and combined interventions. Studies evaluating the effectiveness of setting interventions (modification of the physical workplace environment, changes of production processes, organisational changes) yield no dependable results. This conclusion is not based on indifferent trial results but rather on the lack of methodologically sound studies. Results from studies on ergonomic interventions addressing the individual confirm the conclusions drawn for exercise and educational measures. The most marked results are found in trials that examine the effectiveness of combined interventions in high risk groups and contain a strong participatory component. Hardly any of the trials studying the effects of ergonomic interventions satisfied methodological quality criteria that are accepted standard for clinical or public health intervention studies.
There were no data allowing firm conclusions on the cost-effectiveness of interventions from any of the categories.
Discussion
The significance of the results of the assessment at hand is strongly limited by the comprehensiveness of the questions addressed. Reviewing the literature on the basis of (even systematic) review articles impairs the differentiated examination of the role of target groups, program contents, application and duration, effect sizes and context factors. While the methodological quality of the review articles is quite high, the quality of individual trials (even those included in the review papers) is highly variable. While most trials examining preventive interventions addressed at individuals satisfy at least some methodological requirements many studies dealing with setting interventions do not.
Conclusions
In conclusion, sound scientific evidence for the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of back pain prevention in the workplace environment is still quite scarce. Further research should include:
The development of interventions guided by the bio psychosocial model of back pain aetiology that combines individual prevention as well as measures addressing the workplace environment.The integration of results from basic ergonomic research into prevention concepts and the conduct of trials focussing outcomes with relevance to health.at the workplace setting. The conduct of qualitative studies to identify factors that impair the effectiveness of prevention programs (e. g. motivation, compliance, people skills).The integration of cost-effectiveness evaluations into all interventional studies.
PMCID: PMC3011361  PMID: 21289963
21.  Outcome of low back pain in general practice: a prospective study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;316(7141):1356-1359.
Objectives: To investigate the claim that 90% of episodes of low back pain that present to general practice have resolved within one month.
Design: Prospective study of all adults consulting in general practice because of low back pain over 12 months with follow up at 1 week, 3 months, and 12 months after consultation.
Setting: Two general practices in south Manchester.
Subjects: 490 subjects (203 men, 287 women) aged 18-75 years.
Main outcome measures: Proportion of patients who have ceased to consult with low back pain after 3 months; proportion of patients who are free of pain and back related disability at 3 and 12 months.
Results: Annual cumulative consultation rate among adults in the practices was 6.4%. Of the 463 patients who consulted with a new episode of low back pain, 275 (59%) had only a single consultation, and 150 (32%) had repeat consultations confined to the 3 months after initial consultation. However, of those interviewed at 3 and 12 months follow up, only 39/188 (21%) and 42/170 (25%) respectively had completely recovered in terms of pain and disability.
Conclusions: The results are consistent with the interpretation that 90% of patients with low back pain in primary care will have stopped consulting with symptoms within three months. However most will still be experiencing low back pain and related disability one year after consultation.
Key messages It is widely believed that 90% of episodes of low back pain seen in general practice resolve within one month In a large population based study we examined the outcome of episodes of low back pain in general practice with respect to both consultation behaviour and self reported pain and disability While 90% of subjects consulting general practice with low back pain ceased to consult about the symptoms within three months, most still had substantial low back pain and related disability Only 25% of the patients who consulted about low back pain had fully recovered 12 months later Since most consulters continue to have long term low back pain and disability, effective early treatment could reduce the burden of these symptoms and their social, economic, and medical impact
PMCID: PMC28536  PMID: 9563990
22.  Time trends in single versus concomitant neck and back pain in finnish adolescents: results from national cross-sectional surveys from 1991 to 2011 
Background
Previous studies, in late 20th century, suggest an increase in the prevalence of neck pain and low back pain among children and adolescents, when neck and low back pain were studied separately. This study investigated time trends in adolescent spinal pain between 1991 and 2011 by classifying pain into the following three classes: neck pain alone, low back pain alone, and concomitant neck and low back pain.
Methods
Representative samples of 12 to 18-year-old Finns were sent a questionnaire in 1991, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011. Information was gathered about the frequency of neck and low back pain with a six-month recall period. Statistical methods used included descriptive analysis, and generalized linear models.
Results
The total number of respondents in these eight comparable cross-sectional surveys was 51 044 with a response proportion of 64%. The prevalence of concomitant neck and low back pain showed a steady increase from 1991 to 2009/2011; the prevalence almost quadrupled among 12-14-year-olds girls (from 2% to 7.5%), and more than doubled among 12-14-year-old boys (from 1.6% to 3.8%), and among 16-18-year old boys (from 4.2 to 9.9%) and girls (6.9% to 15.9%). The prevalence of neck pain alone only increased in the 1990s (e.g. among 16-18-year-old girls 22.9% in 1991, 29.2% in 1999, and 29.5% in 2011), while the prevalence of low back pain alone remained relatively constant during the last two decades (e.g. among 16-18-year-old girls 4% in 1991, 3.1% in 1999, and 3.7% in 2011).
Conclusions
Concomitant neck and low back pain has constantly increased in the last two decades among adolescents, while single neck pain has only increased in the 1990s. Single low back pain has remained relatively constant. Thus, earlier detected increase in low back pain in the 1990s was explained by the increase in concomitant neck and low back pain. Differences in the time trends in the three pain conditions might suggest, at least partly, different risk factors and aetiology for single- and multisite spinal pain among adolescents. This hypothesis needs further investigations.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-296) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-296
PMCID: PMC4161855  PMID: 25192809
Neck pain; Low back pain; Concomitant neck and low back pain; Spinal pain; Musculoskeletal pain; Adolescent; Time trend; Serial cross-sectional design; Prevalence
23.  Application of a classification system and description of a combined manual therapy intervention: a case with low back related leg pain 
Low back pain and leg pain commonly occur together. Multiple factors can cause low back related leg pain; therefore, identification of the source of symptoms is required in order to develop an appropriate intervention program. The patient in this case presented with low back and leg pain. A patho-mechanism based classification is described in combination with the patient’s subjective and objective examination findings to guide treatment. The patient’s symptoms improved marginally with intervention addressing primarily the musculoskeletal impairments and with intervention addressing primarily the neurodynamic impairments. Full functional improvements were attained with a manual therapy intervention directed at both mechanisms simultaneously. The approach described in this case address a mixed pathology utilizing passive accessory and passive physiological lumbar mobilizations in combination with lower extremity neurodynamic mobilization. The patient reported complete resolution of symptoms after a total of seven visits over a period of 6 weeks. While specific guidelines do not yet exist for treatment based on the classification approach utilized, this case report provides an example of manual therapy to address low back related leg pain of mixed pathology.
doi:10.1179/106698110X12640740712572
PMCID: PMC3101076  PMID: 21655391
Classification; Combined intervention; Manual therapy; Neurodynamics; Neuropathic
24.  On the course of low back pain in general practice: a one year follow up study 
OBJECTIVES—Knowledge on the clinical course of low back pain presented in general practice is poor. Preceding studies offer a fragmentary view only, whereas further knowledge is important to enable the assessment of the prognosis. The object of this study is to investigate the course of low back pain presented in general practice to enable the assessment of the prognosis.
METHODS—A one year follow up study on the clinical course of low back pain in consecutive cases receiving usual care in general practice. During a period of two years 15 general practitioners from Amsterdam and surrounding areas included consecutive patients with both chronic and recent onset low back pain. After the initial visit, each patient was monitored for a period of 12 months. The follow up consisted of monthly postal questionnaires on the course of the low back pain and the related disability.
RESULTS—A total of 443 of 605 patients identified were included in the follow up, which was fully completed by 269 patients. In general, patients with less serious low back pain participated less often or did not complete the follow up. At 12 weeks 35% and at the end of the follow up 10% of the population, respectively, still suffered from low back pain. Both the pain and the disability seemed to diminish quickly after the initial visit, and both seemed to stabilise at a lower level if the low back pain did not disappear completely. About three of four patients, whose pain disappeared before the end of the follow up, endured one or more relapses within a year. The median time to a relapse was about seven weeks, and its median duration about six weeks. Both the pain and the disability turned out to be less severe during relapses. The median time to recovery for patients whose low back pain developed more than seven weeks before the initial visit, was four weeks longer than for patients with more recently developed low back pain at the initial visit.
CONCLUSIONS—The clinical course of low back pain presented in general practice, for the most patients, clearly is less favourable than expected. It takes more than just a few weeks to recover, and relapses occur within a year in most cases. Fortunately, both the pain and the disability quickly diminish, even if the low back pain does not resolve within a few weeks.

 Keywords: backache; prognosis; follow up study; general practice
PMCID: PMC1752458  PMID: 9536816
25.  Physiotherapy movement based classification approaches to low back pain: comparison of subgroups through review and developer/expert survey 
Background
Several classification schemes, each with its own philosophy and categorizing method, subgroup low back pain (LBP) patients with the intent to guide treatment. Physiotherapy derived schemes usually have a movement impairment focus, but the extent to which other biological, psychological, and social factors of pain are encompassed requires exploration. Furthermore, within the prevailing 'biological' domain, the overlap of subgrouping strategies within the orthopaedic examination remains unexplored. The aim of this study was "to review and clarify through developer/expert survey, the theoretical basis and content of physical movement classification schemes, determine their relative reliability and similarities/differences, and to consider the extent of incorporation of the bio-psycho-social framework within the schemes".
Methods
A database search for relevant articles related to LBP and subgrouping or classification was conducted. Five dominant movement-based schemes were identified: Mechanical Diagnosis and Treatment (MDT), Treatment Based Classification (TBC), Pathoanatomic Based Classification (PBC), Movement System Impairment Classification (MSI), and O'Sullivan Classification System (OCS) schemes. Data were extracted and a survey sent to the classification scheme developers/experts to clarify operational criteria, reliability, decision-making, and converging/diverging elements between schemes. Survey results were integrated into the review and approval obtained for accuracy.
Results
Considerable diversity exists between schemes in how movement informs subgrouping and in the consideration of broader neurosensory, cognitive, emotional, and behavioural dimensions of LBP. Despite differences in assessment philosophy, a common element lies in their objective to identify a movement pattern related to a pain reduction strategy. Two dominant movement paradigms emerge: (i) loading strategies (MDT, TBC, PBC) aimed at eliciting a phenomenon of centralisation of symptoms; and (ii) modified movement strategies (MSI, OCS) targeted towards documenting the movement impairments associated with the pain state.
Conclusions
Schemes vary on: the extent to which loading strategies are pursued; the assessment of movement dysfunction; and advocated treatment approaches. A biomechanical assessment predominates in the majority of schemes (MDT, PBC, MSI), certain psychosocial aspects (fear-avoidance) are considered in the TBC scheme, certain neurophysiologic (central versus peripherally mediated pain states) and psychosocial (cognitive and behavioural) aspects are considered in the OCS scheme.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-24
PMCID: PMC3395852  PMID: 22348236

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