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Rehab Program Gets Back Pain Patients Back to Work Sooner

Disability cut short with integrated care, research shows

WEDNESDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- People with chronic low back pain that keeps them away from work can recover an average of four months earlier if they take part in a specific type of rehabilitation program, a new study suggests.

Researchers in the Netherlands and Canada studied 134 patients with chronic low back pain who hadn't been able to go to work for about six months, on average. The patients, aged 18 to 65, were randomly assigned to receive usual care or to take part in a program called "integrated care."

The integrated care program included adjustments made to the workplace environment and an exercise program that taught patients how to move safely and become more active.

Over a year, the patients who took part in the integrated care program returned to work after an average of 88 days instead of an average of 208 days for those who received usual care, according to the report published online March 17 in BMJ.

Although there were no statistically significant differences between the groups in reported levels of pain improvement, the study authors noted that the integrated care program significantly improved patients' functional status and reduced their disability both at home and at work.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more on low back pain.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: BMJ, news release, March 17, 2010

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