Sports Medicine Approach to Low Back Pain

Mathew W. Lively, DO

South Med J. 2002;95(6) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Low back pain is a common, recurrent affliction in the general population. Research has indicated that, contrary to traditional beliefs, bed rest is not an effective therapy. Existing evidence supports the use of early activity and exercise in treatment of acute and chronic low back pain. Since the sports medicine model of rehabilitation is based on early, progressive activity, its principles can be usefully applied to the management of low back pain in the general population.

Low back pain (LBP) is the second most common cause for visits to physicians, and the most common cause of activity limitation in people younger than 45 years of age.[1] It has also been estimated that 70% to 85% of individuals will have LBP at some time in their life.[1] Although LBP is a common problem, the etiology of the discomfort varies among individuals, and many times a definite source cannot be identified. Consequently, treatment recommendations also vary, and both patients and physicians often become frustrated with the care of LBP. Over the past 15 years, emerging evidence has shed new light on the natural history of LBP and its appropriate management. In this paper, I review the current knowledge of LBP and offer treatment advice using the sports medicine model for rehabilitation.

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