How is chronic low back pain (cLBP) defined?

Updated: Aug 22, 2018
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Stephen A Berman, MD, PhD, MBA  more...
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Answer

Answer

Low back pain (LBP) is defined as chronic after 3 months because most normal connective tissues heal within 6-12 weeks, unless pathoanatomic instability persists. A slower rate of tissue repair in the relatively avascular intervertebral disk may impair the resolution of some persistent painful cases of chronic LBP (cLBP). An estimated 15-20% develop protracted pain, and approximately 2-8% have chronic pain. Of those individuals who remain disabled for more than 6 months, fewer than half return to work, and after 2 years of LBP disability, a return to work is even more unlikely. [2] Studies suggest that one third to one fourth of patients in a primary care setting may still have problems after 1 year. [3, 4]


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