Grouping patients separately can help explain what contributes to their progress
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Most patients with low back pain (LBP) are instructed to follow at least a minimal course of treatment, which typically leads improvements; however, it’s been found that there is a large amount of variability in pain and disability levels between patients after treatment. This suggests that all patients respond differently to treatment, and that a more detailed analysis of their progress is necessary to understand who improves more rapidly and why. Therefore, a study was conducted that categorized a large group of LBP patients into smaller groups based on the time it took them to recover.
Older study is analyzed in greater detail
Results from an older study that compared acetaminophen to a placebo for treating LBP were analyzed with a specific focus in mind. The intent of this analysis was to group LBP patients into groups according to how long it took for their condition to improve—or worsen—12 weeks after treatment. Data on 1,585 LBP patients was analyzed, which led to the creation of five groups: group 1 recovered by week two, group 2 recovered by week 12, group 3 experienced reduced pain but did not recover, group 4 experienced fluctuating pain, and group 5 experienced a high level pain for 12 weeks.
Most patients land in groups 1 and 2
A total of 567 patients (35.8%) were assigned to group 1, 543 (34.3%) to group 2, 222 (14%) to group 3, 167 (10.5%) to group 4, and 86 (5.4%) to group 5. Analysis showed that patients with pain for more than five days and those with negative beliefs about their pain experienced a delayed or no recovery by week 12. In addition, having intense pain or pain for a long time was associated with persistent high pain, while older age and a high number of LBP episodes was associated with fluctuating pain. These findings show that more than 70% of patients recovered from LBP in 12 weeks without any major treatments. Using the data on the specific characteristics in each group may help to identify which patients are more likely to improve without treatment and which require extra care, and this may help to establish better future treatments for LBP patients.
As reported in the September ’15 issue of Pain http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26397929
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