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New clinical guidelines: managing low back pain

New advice released last week recommends a plan to be devised with medical professionals to self-manage back pain through exercise and addressing psychological barriers.


More and more studies are further confirming what exercise physiologists and a number of other treating practitioners have been preaching. People experiencing low back pain should stay active and address psychological barriers to recovery. Exercise is medicine! Painkillers and bed rest are outdated remedies.


There is currently a concern about over-reliance on opioids, passive treatment and other medication to relieve symptoms. There is also an increase in the use of imaging which can lead to unnecessary concern and diagnosis. Being labelled with a diagnosis is not a predictor of pain, and may cause fear which results in limiting movement and activity.


  • RACPG’s Health of the Nation report found musculoskeletal injuries were the 2nd most common cause of GP visits (after psychological concerns)

  • Back pain costs the Australian health system $4.8 billion per year according to Deloitte Access Economics

  • Hospital admissions rose between 2016 and 2019, with more than 176,000 presentations and 44,500 admissions

  • Between 2016 and 2018, 70% of people presenting to hospitals with low back pain were prescribed opioids


New clinical guidelines for treating low back pain call for a focus on movement as therapy.


This new guide encourages a patient with low back pain to stay active and continue (or return) usual activity, including work, as soon as possible. The patient and clinician develop a plan together that includes practical advice to maximise function and limit the impact of pain and other symptoms on daily life.


Patient education is also important to increase their understanding, and address their concerns and expectations. The potential benefits, risks and costs of medicines and other treatment options are discussed, and the patient is supported to ask questions and share in decisions about their care.


The Low Back Pain Clinical Care Standard have devised eight quality statements describing the care that should be received by patients aged 16 years and over who present with low back pain, with or without leg pain.


It may be applied in all healthcare settings. For more click on the below links:






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