Survey Shows UK Providers Disagree with Low Back Pain Guidelines

A majority of practitioners in the United Kingdom advise patients suffering from chronic lower back pain to take a break from work to recuperate, even though guidelines call for patients to remain active and continue working.

A majority of practitioners in the United Kingdom advise patients suffering from chronic lower back pain to take a break from work to recuperate, even though guidelines call for patients to remain active and continue working, the results of a recent survey show.

The cross-sectional survey of 900 musculoskeletal practitioners (chiropractors, osteopaths, and physiotherapists) in the United Kingdom was conducted by Tamar Pincus, PhD, of the University of London, and colleagues. Pincus and her colleagues assessed the results from 337 respondents. Of these respondents, 80% admitted to occasionally recommending work absence to patients with lower back pain, and 14% reported advising absence from work often or always. In addition, 70% of practitioners said that they never visit the workplace of their patients.

While almost all doctors admitted to going against the guidelines at least once in a while, a majority reported that they advised patients to perform certain exercises at work.

The researchers concluded that UK health care providers view their roles concerning returning patients with lower back pain to work as “limited,” and that most doctors believe that direct contact with employers is beyond the reach of their professional duties.

The study was published in the December issue of Pain.