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Med Hypotheses. 2012 Aug;79(2):232-40. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.04.047. Epub 2012 May 31.

Multi-factorial causative model for back pain management; relating causative factors and mechanisms to injury presentations and designing time- and cost effective treatment thereof.

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  • 1School of Physiotherapy, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.


Back pain resolution has not statistically improved over many years with some literature suggesting chronic back pain to be increasing. From a search of literature on causes, events, mechanisms, factors and treatment for back pain, a model is developed that relates causes of back injury to factors that result in pain through two primary mechanisms; muscle fatigue and muscle/tendon/connective tissue strain or sprain with other main mechanisms being diminished reactivity and strength, changes in tendon/tissue mechanical properties and fear of back pain recurrence/fear of movement following a back pain episode. The model highlights the fact that back pain/injury is multi-factorial with numerous circular relationships. Therefore treatment should also be multi-factorial; a combination of physical and psychological therapy with attention to mechanisms at work or in daily living that exacerbate the injury and delay recovery thereof. Exercise is one method that can reduce muscle imbalance, improve resilience to muscle fatigue, and address reactivity and strength. More importantly, eccentric exercise can rectify musculotendinous or connective tissue injury which plays a role in prolonging the back injury cycle. Posture is identified as a causative factor for back pain with the time exposure for posture representing the largest portion of daily activities. From literature and from clinical observation, treatment methods can be improved and incorporated into integrated multi-modal programs. An integrated exercise program that commences with motor control exercise and progresses into functional movement is suggested. Furthermore a modification of the McKenzie extension movement may benefit back injury rehabilitation for a majority of lower back pain patients. Otherwise the sit-to-stand movement is a regular and frequent exacerbating mechanism of back pain and likely continuously tears connective tissue during the movement thus prolonging the cycle of back pain and can be addressed instantly with a modification in sit-to-stand technique.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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