I run a small manufacturing plant that employs 25 people. Whenever someone is out due to back pain, we try to get them back to work as soon as possible. But I'm afraid I may be expecting too much. Should I push my employees to work through their pain? Or am I setting them up for further injury?
These are all very good questions that many managers and business owners face daily. You may have to approach each case individually. If the doctor or physical therapist has not identified a serious problem, then the general guideline for back pain patients is to get back to normal as quickly as possible.

Expecting too much of chronic back pain patients (given their pain) is not always helpful. In fact, this type of attitude or behavior has been labelled fear avoidance behavior. Sometimes patients engage in FAB themselves. They may avoid certain activities or movements because they are afraid it might hurt or they might reinjure themselves.

There is an actual test to identify FABs. It's a survey of questions that cover physical activity and beliefs about work. If you suspect someone may be experiencing fear avoidance, it may be helpful to suggest an assessment. Physical therapists are trained to identify individuals with FAB. They can help patients change their fear-avoidance beliefs, attitudes, and actions.