My husband had surgery for a painful disc in his low back. He had good results. He's almost pain free and able to do many of his regular household and work tasks. It's been almost six months and he's still taking pain relievers and hasn't gone back to work. Am I expecting too much?

In a recent study from the Perth Pain Management Centre in Australia, researchers made some surprising findings about back pain sufferers. After successful treatment of disc problems, patients still used the same amount of medication. Like your husband, the patients did not return to work as expected.

These two findings prompted the researchers to make two suggestions. First, chronic pain sufferers may have some drug behaviors that require medical or psychologic treatment. Second, there might be factors besides pain and physical function keeping patients from returning to work. Again, psychologic or behavioral intervention may be the best way to approach this problem.