A study recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that giving low-income patients the counseling and resources they need to self-manage acute lower back pain has a dramatic effect on those patients’ mental and physical function.
The study, conducted by Dr. Teresa M. Damush and colleagues, compared the mental and physical complaints of individuals who received normal care regimens for acute lower back pain with those of individuals enrolled in a self-management program. "The self-management program," write Dr. Damush and her team, "consisted of three group sessions with a telephone follow-up that focused on understanding back pain, increasing physical activity, and dealing with fears and frustrations."
Specifically, patients were taught how to perform therapeutic exercises and fit these exercises into their daily routine. They were also encouraged to take a more active role in their recovery and communicate with their doctors about pain
Those patients that participated in the self-management program reported a reduction in fears and frustrations pertaining to their conditions, improved physical ability, and improved ability to self-manage pain. They also had better scores on the Roland-Morris Low Back Pain and Disability Questionnaire, a popular medical questionnaire used in evaluating the severity of back pain-related disability.
These findings give hope to those whose lives have been disrupted due to acute lower back pain, which, according to a related news release from the Indiana University School of Medicine, is currently the most common cause of job-related disability.
Dr. Damush concluded that by "empowering low-income adults" with the tools they need to actively participate in the recovery process, health care professionals can expedite these patients’ return to normal activities.