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Back Pain Got You Down Under? Aussies Fear Not

Back pain strikes! What will help you the most? A long rest and staying away from work? Or keeping active, exercising, and not resting for long? We know which sounds more appealing, but in fact many studies have proven that staying active and on the job has the best outcome.

Disability from low back pain is on the rise and has become a worldwide problem. Medical groups like the Workers' Compensation organization (WorkCover Authority) in Australia are looking for ways to change this. This group began the first public program to change the way people think about back pain. The program was also designed to change the way doctors manage back pain. The overall goal was to prevent disability and reduce the cost to workers' compensation.

Using different forms of publicity, this group tried to reach the general public with this message. They used television commercials, pamphlets, billboards, posters, workplace visits, and publicity articles to accomplish this goal. They measured their success by calling thousands of individuals and doctors on the telephone before and after the program. They asked everyone the same questions about beliefs and actions related to back pain.

The researchers found that no matter a person's age, salary, birthplace, sex, or educational level, there was a definite change in attitude. The management of back pain by general doctors also changed in keeping with the advertised message. Fear and avoidance of activity were reduced in response to this new information. Best of all, the number of back claims decreased by 15 percent, with an overall cost decrease of 20 percent per claim.

Positive messages about back pain can alter the way people think about this problem. Information and advice given to the general public can help change society's response to that first case of sudden back pain. More information on back care and back pain prevention is available. Helpful resources include:

  •  The Back Book by M. Roland, G. Waddell, and J. Moffat. Published by The Stationary Office, London, United Kingdom (England), 1996.

  •  Treat Your Own Back (7th edition) by Robin McKenzie. Published by McKenzie Institute. This resource is available online at www.mckenziemdt.org, or by calling 800-635-8380 (USA).

Rachelle Buchbinder, MBBS (Hons), MSc, FRACP, et al. 2001 Volvo Award Winner in Clinical Studies: Effects of a Media Campaign on Back Pain Beliefs and Its Potential Influence on Management of Low Back Pain in General Practice. In Spine. December 1, 2001. Vol. 26. No. 23. Pp. 2535-2542.


*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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