Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

How Does Low Back Pain Lead to Disability?

March 14, 2018


Physical Therapy is an excellent choice for low back pain with numerous research articles supporting its’ ability to rapidly reduce pain and disability.  Many interventions utilized in our Boulder Physical Therapy practice, including manipulation and exercise, are designed to prevent low back pain symptoms from being chronic or recurrent.  An interesting article was published identifying factors which play a role in the transition of low back pain to lost work and activity time.

Lee and colleagues conducted a review of the available literature on back and neck pain to determine the mechanisms behind the common life experience of low back pain and the less common outcome of disability (Pain 2015).  The authors reviewed 12 studies of close to 3000 patients with neck or back pain and found self efficacy levels, psychological distress, and fear explained the relationship between pain and disability.  Interestingly, other variables such as age, MRI findings, and function did not influence this relationship.  This study highlights the importance of how we frame, understand, and view our back pain symptoms.  Viewing our symptoms as a common, manageable occurrence may help reduce the transition from low back pain to lost work and play.