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Team Approach to Chronic Back Pain Goes the Distance

This is a follow-up study of 45 patients treated for chronic low back pain at the University of Iowa Spine Treatment Center. In the first study in 1992 patients were put in one of two groups. One group was in a multidisciplinary program. That means the group did physical therapy, aerobic exercise, and vocational counseling. There were also classes on many subjects about back pain.

The second group had standard treatment along with psychological and behavioral therapy for pain management. In this follow-up study, all 45 patients were contacted 13 years later. Four measures were used to assess the final outcome. Patients were asked about pain, mood, employment, and general health.

The authors report that patients held onto their improved health and decreased back pain. This was true even though everyone was 13 years older. More than half were still working. Most of the patients who weren't working reported that it wasn't because of back pain. General health was the same compared to adults their own age without back pain. The patients gave a report of higher pain levels in general compared to the norm.

The results of this study support the use of a multidisciplinary approach to chronic low back pain. The multidisciplinary approach showed positive long-term outcomes. Short-term treatment gains were still present 13 years later.

Luke E. Patrick, PhD, et al. Long-Term Outcomes in Multidisciplinary Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain: Results of a 13-Year Follow-Up. In Spine. April 15, 2004. Vol. 29. No. 8. Pp. 850-855.

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