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Chronic Back Pain: Insights from Expert Recommendations

Understanding and Confronting the Global Challenge of Chronic Back Pain

Take control of chronic back pain with a comprehensive spectrum of therapeutic options, guided by expert recommendations. Millions worldwide grapple with the challenges of chronic back pain, unsure if relief is on the horizon. Psychotherapist Ann Marie Gaudon’s journey reflects the common struggle—initially finding solace through various practitioners but facing a recurrence after a brief respite.

RESOURCED ARTICLE Get control of chronic back pain with a full spectrum of therapy options, experts say

Chronic Back Pain:
side view of an unrecognized Asian Chinese woman in t-shirt with hands touching back suffering backache sitting on a sofa at home. mother resting on the couch in the living room in the daytime while her waist is painful.

Chronic back pain affects nearly eight million Canadians and hundreds of millions globally, making it a widespread concern. Dr. Brenda Lau, co-founder and medical director of the CHANGEPain clinic in Burnaby, B.C., sheds light on the nature of chronic back pain. Pain can be acute, triggered by injuries, stress, or diseases, or it can be chronic, persisting for three to six months or more. The discomfort associated with chronic back pain often affects individuals aged 25 to 55, with factors like prolonged sitting, smoking, poor eating habits, and inadequate sleep contributing to its prevalence.

Medical imaging, such as MRIs, CT scans, and X-rays, often fails to correlate with the intensity of back pain. Even in cases where physical trauma is evident, like Ann Marie Gaudon’s herniated disc and pinched nerves, the term “non-specific low back pain” arises when the cause remains unclear. Dr. Ted Findlay, a pain physician with the Calgary Chronic Pain Centre, emphasizes moving away from a strict reliance on imaging for treatment plans.

The biopsychosocial model becomes pivotal in treating chronic back pain, incorporating biology, psychology, and social factors. According to World Health Organization guidelines, a combination of education and rehabilitation is crucial for successful treatment. Spinal manipulation, where specialists use hands or instruments to apply pressure to the spine, is highlighted as a beneficial approach. This aligns with the call for a full-spectrum approach by Dr. Lau, involving the rehabilitation and retraining of muscles through various practitioners such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, and exercise physiologists.

Pain reprocessing therapy, utilizing psychological techniques to reshape patients’ thinking about their pain, emerges as an effective tool. Dr. Lau stresses the need for a holistic approach, encouraging individuals to address fears around pain and reinterpret pain signals actively.

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A meta-analysis suggests that early diagnosis and treatment can mitigate the likelihood of chronic back pain persisting. Dr. Lau urges individuals to heed the call to action when pain arises, empowering themselves to make personal changes and seek guidance from healthcare providers. Persistence in exploring new approaches is highlighted, emphasizing the importance of continued efforts in finding solutions to chronic back pain

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