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Why is back pain still a huge, expensive problem?

PainSci » bibliography » Zusman 2013
updated
Tags: mind, biomechanics, back pain, etiology, pro, pain problems, spine

Two articles on PainSci cite Zusman 2013: 1. When to Worry About Low Back Pain2. The Mind Game in Low Back Pain

PainSci notes on Zusman 2013:

Why is back pain still a huge problem? Maybe this: “It is extremely difficult to alter the potentially disabling belief among the lay public that low back pain has a structural mechanical cause. An important reason for this is that this belief continues to be regularly reinforced by the conditions of care of a range of ‘hands-on’ providers, for whom idiosyncratic variations of that view are fundamental to their professional existence.”

Well said. If only I could edit it, though, I would say that it is difficult to alter that belief in anyone, patient or professional. The belief isn’t just reinforced by the practices of manual therapists, it’s the reason for them.

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Recent figures show that there has been no change in the upward trend of direct and indirect costs for the largely benign symptom of low back pain in Western societies. This is despite greater understanding and the recommendation of a much more conservative and independent approach to its management. Moreover, in recent years, several large-scale education programs that aim to bring knowledge of the public (including general practitioners) more in line with evidence-based best practice were carried out in different countries. The hope was that the information imparted would change beliefs, ie, dysfunctional patient behavior and biomedical practice on the part of clinicians. However, these programs had no influence on behavior or costs in three out of the four countries in which they were implemented. It is argued that one reason for the overall lack of success is that it is extremely difficult to alter the potentially disabling belief among the lay public that low back pain has a structural mechanical cause. An important reason for this is that this belief continues to be regularly reinforced by the conditions of care of a range of "hands-on" providers, for whom idiosyncratic variations of that view are fundamental to their professional existence.

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