Biopsychosocial approach to low back pain

Healthcare
professionals can make matters worse when tackling the problem of lower back
pain, claimed Dr Grahame Brown, a physician specialising in musculoskeletal,
sport and exercise medicine.

His
thought-provoking presentation focused not on the primary prevention of back
pain, but on dealing with employees who have just begun to take time off with a
back complaint.

He
revealed that an OH practitioner is ideally placed to influence the outcome by
carrying out a ‘biopsychosocial’ assessment that takes into account the
patient’s physical, psychological and emotional state.

Brown
has found that catastrophic thinking, or the fear of pain when moving can set
in quickly, which only opens the pain gates further.

Recognising
that recovery can be hampered by the treatment process itself –  an employee who may be worried about
returning to work before an appointment with an orthopaedic consultant, for
example – the OH nurse can help speed up the recovery process, said Brown.

By
calming a person down and reframing unhelpful attitudes and beliefs, the OH
nurse can help reduce the burden of lower back pain disability.

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