Getting Back to Work After Low Back Pain
It takes time to get back to work after a long episode of low back pain (LBP). Studies show that a multidisciplinary team may have the best results for chronic LBP. In this report, researchers from the Netherlands report on the long-term results of this approach.

Multidisciplinary treatment involves several health care professionals. The team may include a physician, physical or occupational therapist, social worker, and psychologist or counselor. The training program is intense but graded. This means it takes hours each day but goes at the patient's own pace.

Ten studies utilizing a multidisciplinary approach for chronic LBP were reviewed. Some had two elements (physical and educational or psychological). Others included up to four components such as physical, educational, social, psychological). Follow-up varied from six months to five years.

Results were measured in terms of work participation and perceived quality of life (QOL). There was a positive effect of multidisciplinary back training (MBT) on work participation. Evidence was limited for a similar positive effect on QOL. MBT did not change pain levels or function.

The authors conclude MBT does help peole get back to work, which may improve QOL as well.
Jan-Willem van Geen, MSc, et al. The Long-term Effect of Multidisciplinary Back Training. A Systematic Review. In Spine. January 15, 2007. Vol. 32. No. 2. Pp. 249-255.