What determines whether people become disabled from low back pain?

A variety of factors affect whether people can do their regular activities when they have low back pain. According to a recent study, the most important of these is the amount of pain. The greater the pain, the harder it is to do daily tasks.

Depression and the belief that low back pain is "the end of the world" also make it hard to do activities. So does believing that back pain is inevitable and will worsen with work or physical activities. Finally, not being able to use certain back muscles and having poor range of movement seem to prevent patients from going about their days as usual.

So what needs to happen for patients to return to their regular activities? First, steps need to be taken to help relieve pain. These can include the use of medication and physical therapy treatments. But patients may need to work on some of their feelings and ideas as well. Researchers have found that getting past depression helps patients get over disability. Also, getting rid of the belief that work and other activities will worsen low back pain often allows patients to return quickly to their normal ways of living.