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Factors Affecting Back-Pain Sick Leave in Chile Identified

Longer sick leaves found in groups such as manual laborers

FRIDAY, Dec. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Chileans are more likely to take longer sick leave for low back pain if they have a history of sick leave for low back pain, do manual labor, or were seen by an orthopedic surgeon, similar to other Western populations, according to a study in the December issue of The Spine Journal.

Claudio Diaz-Ledezma, M.D., from the Universidad del Desarrollo in Santiago, Chile, and colleagues reviewed 10,000 non-occupational sick leave certificates issued with a diagnosis of acute low back pain in Chile.

The researchers found that acute low back pain represented 5.4 percent of sick leave cases. Patients with low back pain stayed on sick leave longer than the remainder of the population if they had a history of sick leave for low back pain in the previous year (14 percent longer), were manual laborers (35 percent longer), or were seen by an orthopedic surgeon (43 percent longer).

"The results from this study in a Chilean population are similar to those found in Anglo-Saxon and Northern European populations," Diaz-Ledezma and colleagues conclude. "Physicians who treat patients with low back pain should be aware of these variables associated with longer sick leave because of acute low back pain, which represents a significant burden to any society and is an important epidemiologic problem."

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