By Randy Dotinga
People with chronic low back pain that keeps them away from work can recover an average of 4 months earlier if they take part in a specific type of rehabilitation program, a new study suggests.
Researchers in the Netherlands and Canada studied 134 patients with chronic low back pain who hadn’t been able to go to work for about 6 months, on average. The patients, ages 18 to 65, were randomly assigned to receive usual care or to take part in a program called "integrated care."
The integrated care program included adjustments made to the workplace environment and an exercise program that taught patients how to move safely and become more active.
Over a year, the patients who took part in the integrated care program returned to work after an average of 88 days instead of an average of 208 days for those who received usual care, according to the report published in BMJ.
Although there were no statistically significant differences between the groups in reported levels of pain improvement, the study authors noted that the integrated care program significantly improved patients’ functional status and reduced their disability at home and at work.