I've heard that once a person has back pain, he or she will always have back pain. Is there any truth to this idea?
It is true that low back pain (LBP) tends to come back. Experts refer to this as relapse and recurrence. Only about 25 per cent of adults who seek medical help for LBP recover fully over the next 12 months.

Recently, the role of psychosocial factors in LBP has been brought to light. It turns out that for most people, there's not a specific spinal pathology causing the LBP. It's the stress of work, finances, and psychologic issues such as anxiety and depression that really contribute to the start of LBP.

As a result, guidelines for management of LBP of unknown cause have been developed. These include: keep active and continue with daily, routine activities. Avoid bed rest and go back to work right away. Avoid passive treatments that feel good but don't really address the problem.

Studies are underway now to see if following this plan can change the relapse and recurrence rate of LBP. Experts are also focusing on predicting who might be at risk for LBP and preventing it from happening. It may take a period of 10 to 20 years, but this type of research may eventually change the long-term picture of LBP.