Recurrence of Non-Specific Low Back Pain Not Likely

Most patients who have an acute non-specific low back pain episode don't have another within year

FRIDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- About one in four patients will have a recurrence of low back pain within one year following an acute episode, a much lower incidence than previously estimated, according to research published in the Dec. 15 issue of Spine.

Tasha R. Stanton, from the University of Sydney in Australia, and colleagues evaluated the one-year incidence of recurrence and factors that could predict this recurrence in a cohort of 353 individuals. All participants had experienced an acute occurrence of non-specific low back pain and recovered within six weeks.

At the 12-month follow-up, when patients were asked whether they had experienced a recurrence of low back pain, 24 percent responded that they had; this incidence rose to 33 percent when the investigators considered pain reports taken at three and 12 months. Although several factors were examined for their ability to predict recurrence, only the presence of one or more prior episodes of low back pain could consistently predict recurrence by the one-year follow-up. The study found that patients with a previous episode of low back pain were up to twice as likely to have a recurrent episode within the subsequent year.

"Our findings challenge the assumption that the majority of patients with an episode of acute low back pain will have a recurrence of low back pain within one year," the authors write.

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