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Majority of Practitioners in U.K. Advise Time Off for Back Pain

Despite guidelines encouraging activity, clinicians believe returning to work is detrimental

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Despite guidelines for the clinical management of patients with low back pain (LBP) that encourage patients to stay active and return to work, the majority of practitioners advise patients to take a break from work to recover, according to a study published in the December issue of Pain.

Tamar Pincus, Ph.D., of the University of London, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional survey of 900 musculoskeletal practitioners (osteopaths, physical therapists, and chiropractors) across the United Kingdom and analyzed results from 337 respondents (37 percent). The Attitudes to Back Pain Scale for musculoskeletal practitioners was included to explore the relationship between general beliefs about back pain and practice-related behaviors.

The researchers found that 93 percent of respondents reported recommending work absence to patients with LBP sometimes, often, or always, but less than 2 percent of practitioners prescribed a sick leave certification for LBP often or always. Physical therapists, who in the United Kingdom are employed by the National Health Service, more strongly endorsed the benefits of work to aid in recovery from LBP than either osteopaths or chiropractors, who typically work in the private sector.

"Many practitioners believe that work duties cause and exacerbate LBP, and it is common for practitioners to recommend a short absence from work," the authors write.

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