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BMJ. 2003 Aug 9;327(7410):323.

Acute low back pain: systematic review of its prognosis.

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  • 1School of Physiotherapy, University of Sydney, PO Box 170, Lidcombe NSW 1825, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To describe the course of acute low back pain and sciatica and to identify clinically important prognostic factors for these conditions.

DESIGN:

Systematic review.

DATA SOURCES:

Searches of Medline, Embase, Cinahl, and Science Citation Index and iterative searches of bibliographies.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Pain, disability, and return to work.

RESULTS:

15 studies of variable methodological quality were included. Rapid improvements in pain (mean reduction 58% of initial scores), disability (58%), and return to work (82% of those initially off work) occurred in one month. Further improvement was apparent until about three months. Thereafter levels for pain, disability, and return to work remained almost constant. 73% of patients had at least one recurrence within 12 months.

CONCLUSIONS:

People with acute low back pain and associated disability usually improve rapidly within weeks. None the less, pain and disability are typically ongoing, and recurrences are common.

Comment in

PMID:
12907487
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC169642
Free PMC Article

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