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Many Chronic Low Back Pain Patients Recover Within a Year

Last Updated: October 07, 2009.

Contrary to common wisdom that patients with chronic low back pain can rarely recover, one-third of patients will recover in nine months, and four in 10 patients will recover within a year, according to a study published Oct. 6 in BMJ.

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Contrary to common wisdom that patients with chronic low back pain can rarely recover, one-third of patients will recover in nine months, and four in 10 patients will recover within a year, according to a study published Oct. 6 in BMJ.

Luciola da C. Menezes Costa, of the University of Sydney in Australia, and colleagues conducted a study of 973 patients who presented with acute back pain at primary care clinics in Sydney, of whom 406 had pain that persisted for three months. This group of patients was followed up at nine and 12 months.

After nine months, 35 percent of the cohort no longer had low back pain, and at the 12 month mark 41 percent of patients had completely recovered, the investigators found. There were some patients who had lower odds of recovery, namely those who had previously taken sick leave due to back pain, had greater intensity of pain at the start of chronic back pain, had a low education level, or who were born outside Australia.

"Contrary to the view that recovery from an episode of chronic low back pain is unlikely, we found that an important proportion of patients recovered within one year," the authors write. "Patients with recent onset, non-radicular chronic low back pain can be reassured that they have a good chance of recovery."

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