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Baseline Factors Can Predict Return to Work With Sciatica

Factors include baseline bothersomeness, back pain, and the straight-leg-raising test

Baseline Factors Can Predict Return to Work With Sciatica

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 15, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Prognostic factors have been identified to predict return to work (RTW) among patients with sciatica, according to a study published in the Dec. 1 issue of The Spine Journal.

Lars Grøvle, M.D., Ph.D., from Østfold Hospital Trust in Norway, and colleagues conducted a prospective evaluation involving 466 patients with sciatica in two samples. Sample A included 237 patients who reported being on partial or complete sick leave or were undergoing rehabilitation because of back pain or sciatica at the start of the study. Sample B included 125 patients who received sickness benefits or rehabilitation allowances due to back pain or sciatica.

At the two-year follow-up, the researchers found that one-fourth of patients were still out of work. In sample A, factors significantly associated with an increased probability of RTW at follow-up included younger age, better general health, lower baseline sciatica bothersomeness, less fear-avoidance work, and a negative straight-leg-raising test result, but not surgery. In sample B, significant associations with a longer time to sustained RTW were seen for history of sciatica, current sciatica episode of more than three months, greater sciatica bothersomeness, fear-avoidance work, and back pain. In this group, surgery was significantly negatively associated with time to sustained RTW.

"Less baseline sciatica bothersomeness, fear avoidance work, back pain, an episode duration less than three months, and no previous episodes predicted faster RTW," conclude the authors.

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