Disability Prevention: New Paradigm for the Management of Occupational Back Pain
Occupational back pain is a widespread self-limited but recurring disease that generates major societal costs and impairs workplace productivity. However, this societal impact is mostly accounted for by a small fraction of patients with back pain who have prolonged absence from work, i.e. prolonged disability. Evidence from research from the past 2 decades has progressively shown that most efforts to prevent or cure the disease have limited results, explaining the expanding number of disability cases from back pain. However, recent evidence has also shed light on the causes of disability that are not only due to the patient's personal characteristics (physical and psychosocial), but also stem from the patient's environment in the disability problem - the workplace, the compensation system and even the healthcare delivery system. In addition, successful intervention studies have used an approach to disability prevention through patient reassurance and interventions linked to the workplace, instead of using a medical model of back pain treatment. It is evident that the present disease treatment paradigm should be replaced by a disability prevention paradigm for patients with subacute or chronic back pain to avoid unnecessary evolution towards prolonged disability. We propose a disability prevention management model to encourage clinicians, employers, unions and insurers, as well as researchers in the field, to work within the perspective of the disability paradigm.
Back pain, Economic implications, Musculoskeletal pain, Pharmacoeconomics, Rehabilitation
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