COURSE OF BACK PAIN IN PRIMARY CARE: A PROSPECTIVE STUDY OF PHYSICAL MEASURES
Paul Enthoven, Elisabeth Skargren, Görel Kjellman, Birgitta Öberg Department of Health and Society, Division of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences Linköping University Linköping Sweden
Objective: To describe physical measures used in patients with back pain when no specific treatment is given, to examine associations between change over time in these measures and changes in pain and back-related disability, and to study the value of physical measures at baseline and at a 4-week follow-up to predict outcome at 12 months. Design: A prospective consecutive study. Subjects: Forty-four patients presenting with low back pain in primary care. Methods: The patients underwent a physical examination at baseline and at 4 weeks. Follow-up was carried out using questionnaires until 12 months. Linear regression was used to identify predictors. Results: Most measures had improved significantly at the 4-week follow-up. Thoracolumbar rotation, isometric endurance back extensors, and fingertip-to-floor distance at 4 weeks were significant predictors for pain intensity and back-related disability at the 12-month follow-up. Eighteen out of 44 patients reported an increase in pain after the assessment of the physical measures at baseline. This group of patients improved more in physical measures between baseline and the 4-week follow-up. Conclusion: Physical measures assessed at the 4-week follow-up, but not at baseline, could provide important additional information for identifying those patients at risk for worse outcome in pain or back-related disability at 12 months.
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Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine S:T Johannesgatan 22A SE-753 12 Uppsala, Sweden