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Attitude, Knowledge Can Relieve Back Pain

Study Shows a Positive Attitude and 'Health Literacy' Play Key Roles in Back Pain Relief

Attitudes and Beliefs Affect Back Pain continued...

They were also less likely to believe that their back pain would get better with treatment.

"We know from the literature that anatomical causes account for only a small proportion of back pain cases," Briggs says.

Patients who reported being disabled by their back pain had more fear that resuming normal activities or exercising would make their condition worse.

Many patients had trouble finding, understanding, or using the information they received about their condition. This was more common among patients with disabling back pain when the researchers used their own assessment of health literacy.

The study appears this week in the journal Pain.

Back Pain Patients Need to Stay Active

The vast majority of people who experience low back pain get better on their own within a few weeks.

While bed rest was once encouraged, the conventional wisdom these days is that most patients with back pain should remain as active as possible.

Orthopaedic surgeon William A. Abdu, MD, says he is not surprised that patients who don't understand or accept the importance of staying active report more disabling pain.

Abdu is medical director of the Spine Center at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.

A study of patients with back pain now under way at Dartmouth confirms the importance of educating patients about their back pain and potential treatments, he says.

"We've found that shared decision making is critical," he says. "The idea is to educate patients as thoroughly as possible so that they can make informed choices about treatment. One might choose acupuncture while another might choose physical therapy, and another might want chiropractic care. When patients understand their options, outcomes tend to be better."

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