II. Management: General Measures

  1. Ice or heat applied to affected area
    1. Initial interval: 20-25 minutes per hour
    2. Later interval: three times daily
  2. Position of comfort
    1. Flexion relieves pressure on Posterior Columns
    2. Extension relieves pressure on anterior columns
  3. Body mechanics
    1. Ease transfers out of bed
    2. Ease moves to chair, car, toilet, and bathtub
  4. Stay active
    1. Early mobilization activities
      1. Slowly walk every 30 minutes
      2. Consider pool walking
    2. Improves outcomes
      1. Speeds recovery
      2. Reduces chronic Disability
      3. Reduces time off work
    3. Avoid exacerbating activities
      1. See Return to Work in Lumbar Back Pain
      2. Avoid prolonged standing or sitting
      3. Avoid forward flexion at waist (especially while lifting)
      4. Avoid prolonged bed rest (slows recovery)
        1. If absolutely needed, then limit to no more than 2 days
  5. Massage
    1. No affect on pain, functional status or mobility
  6. Physical Therapy
    1. See Low Back Rehabilitation
    2. See Low Back Muscle Fusion Rehabilitation
    3. Consider if no improvement in 2 to 4 weeks
    4. Consider traction or inversion table
    5. Little added benefit in early referral for Acute Low Back Pain
      1. Fritz (2015) JAMA 314(14): 1459-67 [PubMed]
  7. McKenzie Method
    1. http://www.mckenzieinstitute.org/clinicians/
    2. Initial assessment by methodology trained PT and then individualized self treatment
      1. Rosedale (2014) J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 44(3): 173-81 [PubMed]
      2. Dunsford (2011) J Multidiscip Healthc 4:393-402 [PubMed]
    3. Self-Directed McKenzie Method Book is available
      1. https://www.amazon.com/Treat-Your-Back-Robin-McKenzie/dp/0987650408
  8. Corset
    1. Stabilizes spine but does not immobilize back
    2. May allow patient to continue to work
    3. Reduces Exercise benefit of daily activities

III. Management: Acute Pain Control

  1. NSAIDs
    1. Effective for short-term symptomatic relief
      1. Griffin (2002) Am Fam Physician 65(7):1319-21 [PubMed]
    2. Other Analgesics do not offer significant additional benefit
      1. Acetaminophen offers little benefit in decreased pain and increased function
        1. Machado (2015) BMJ 350:h1225 [PubMed]
      2. Naproxen alone was as effective as when combined with an Opioid or Cyclobenzaprine
        1. Friedman (2015) JAMA 314(15): 1572-80 [PubMed]
  2. Opioids
    1. Use sparingly for refractory Acute Low Back Pain
    2. Limit to very short course (risk of Opioid misuse, Opioid Abuse and diversion)
    3. Patients improve faster without Opioids
  3. Muscle relaxants
    1. Efficacy studies
      1. Reduces Acute Low Back Pain
      2. Does not impact outcome
      3. Minimal benefit over NSAIDs alone
      4. No benefit over Placebo in chronic Low Back Pain
    2. Entire class acts centrally and causes sedation
    3. Greatest benefit may be at night to assist sleep
    4. Valium does not add benefit over Naprosyn alone for Low Back Pain
      1. Friedman (2017) Ann Emerg 70(2): 169-76 +PMID: 28187918 [PubMed]
  4. Systemic Corticosteroids (variable evidence)
    1. Variable proven benefit over NSAIDs and increased risk of adverse effects
    2. May reduce radicular pain
    3. Some studies have suggested treating for seven day course on fast taper
    4. Some studies demonstrating efficacy have used a 2 week taper (Prednisone 60, 40 then 20 mg)
      1. However most studies show no significant benefit in Acute Low Back Pain due to Herniated disc
      2. Goldberg (2015) JAMA 313(19):1915-23 +PMID:25988461 [PubMed]

IV. Management: Spinal Manipulation

  1. Manipulation may improve Low Back Pain in up to 85% of patients when 2 criteria met
    1. Acute Low Back Pain less than 16 days and
    2. No symptoms distal to the knee
    3. Fritz (2005) BMC Fam Pract 6(1): 29 [PubMed]
  2. Effective in acute and chronic Low Back Pain
    1. (2005) Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol 19(4):639-54 [PubMed]
  3. Equivalent efficacy to other conservative measures
    1. Analgesics
    2. Physical therapy
    3. Back school
    4. Assendelft (2003) Ann Intern Med 138:871-81 [PubMed]

V. Management: Chronic Pain Control - Effective Measures

  1. NSAIDs
    1. Less effective for long-term pain relief
    2. Risk of Peptic Ulcer Disease and Renal Injury
  2. Tricyclic or Tetracyclic Antidepressant (e.g. Amitriptyline, Nortriptyline)
    1. Mechanism related to Norepinephrine reuptake inhibition
    2. Reduces back pain symptoms
    3. SSRI medications do not appear to be effective
    4. Staiger (2003) Spine 28:2540-5 [PubMed]
  3. Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor
    1. Cymbalta (Duloxetine) appears more effective than Placebo in chronic Low Back Pain
    2. Sklijarevski (2009) Eur J Neurol 16(9): 1041-8 [PubMed]
  4. Anticonvulsants
    1. Consider for neuropathic, radicular pain
      1. Found to be more effective than Placebo
      2. However limited evidence in Low Back Pain and not found effective in Sciatica
    2. Gabapentin (Neurontin)
      1. Yildirim (2009) J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil 22(1): 17-20 [PubMed]
    3. Pregabalin (Lyrica)
    4. Topiramate (Topamax)
      1. Muehlbacher (2006) Clin J Pain 22(6): 526-31 [PubMed]
  5. Onabotulinum Toxin A (Botox)
    1. Effective in Low Back Pain with radiculopathy
    2. De Andres (2010) Reg Anesth Pain Med 35(3): 255-60 [PubMed]
  6. Cognitive Behavior Therapy
    1. Improves pain and Disability in chronic Low Back Pain
    2. Modifying attitude toward pain reduces Disability
      1. Normal functioning possible despite back pain
      2. Pain does not cause harm, and activity may hurt
      3. Goal is return to function, not eliminating pain
      4. Dramatically reduces time to return to work
      5. Staal (2004) Ann Intern Med 140:77-84 [PubMed]
  7. Yoga
    1. Short and longterm efficacy in chronic Low Back Pain
    2. Cramer (2013) Clin J Pain 29(5):450-60 [PubMed]
  8. Exercises and Therapy
    1. Perform daily back Exercises
    2. Consider back school
      1. Intensive low back educational sessions may be very effective
      2. Engers (2008) Cochrane Database Syst Rev (1): CD004057 [PubMed]
    3. Consider multidisciplinary treatment program (including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
      1. Kamper (2015) BMJ 350:h444 [PubMed]
    4. Consider Acupuncture
      1. Growing evidence for benefit, especially in chronic Low Back Pain
      2. See Acupunture for related studies
      3. Best used in combination with other standard measures
    5. Prescribed Walking Program (at least 4 days weekly)
      1. As effective as physical therapy in improved function and decreased pain
      2. Hurley (2015) Pain 156(1): 131-47 [PubMed]

VI. Management: Chronic Low Back Pain Control - Ineffective Measures (when compared with Placebo)

  1. Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
    1. Not more effective than Placebo in chronic Low Back Pain
      1. Williams (2014) Lancet 384(9954): 1586-96 [PubMed]
    2. However, reasonable low risk intervention (if within dosing limits) that may spare Opioids
    3. Dose: 1000 mg orally twice daily (maximum 4000 mg/day)
  2. Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors
    1. Not more effective than Placebo in chronic Low Back Pain
    2. Consider with comorbid depression or anxiety
  3. Trigger Point Injection
    1. No proven benefit in Low Back Pain
    2. Modalities
      1. Local Anesthetic injections
      2. Spray or ice followed by stretch
  4. TENS Unit
    1. No more effective than Placebo
    2. Khadikar (2008) Cochrane Database Syst Rev (4):CD003008 [PubMed]
  5. Epidural Corticosteroid Injection
    1. Efficacy
      1. No longterm benefit over Placebo in chronic Low Back Pain
      2. Choi (2013) Int J Technol Assess Health Care 29(3): 244-53 [PubMed]
      3. Friedly (2014) N Engl J Med 371(1):11-21 [PubMed]
      4. Manchikanti (2014) Pain Physician 17(4): E489-501 [PubMed]
      5. Novak (2008) Arch Phys Med Rahabil 89(3): 543-52 [PubMed]
    2. Indications (if used despite lower efficacy)
      1. Lumbar Disc Herniation with moderate to severe radiculopathy
      2. Symptoms should be refractory to 2-3 weeks of conservative therapy
    3. Preparation
      1. Typically follows MRI
      2. However classic symptoms and signs may direct ESI to best level when imaging is not possible
      3. Performed under fluoroscopy to optimize injection site
      4. Discuss significant neurologic deficits with spine surgery prior to epidural steroid injection
  6. Other measures without benefit over Placebo in chronic Low Back Pain
    1. Facet Joint Injections offer no proven benefit
    2. Sacroiliac Joint Injections are rarely indicated
    3. Lidocaine Patch (5%)
      1. Hashmi (2012) Mol Pain 8:29 [PubMed]
    4. Opioids and Tramadol should be avoided for chronic back pain as much as possible
      1. Try to save Opioids for acute exacerbations

VII. Management: Lumbar Surgery

  1. Common surgical procedures
    1. Spinal Fusion
    2. Lumbar Disc Replacement
  2. Surgery Indications
    1. Cauda Equina Syndrome (emergent surgery)
    2. Progressive Motor Weakness (urgent surgical evaluation)
    3. Disabling Low Back Pain impacting quality of life for >1 year and refractory to conservative measures
  3. Efficacy
    1. No significant benefit for spinal fusion after 13 years
      1. Hedlund (2016) Spine J 16(5): 579-87 [PubMed]

VIII. Prognosis: Factors associated with Chronic Pain (more factors increase risk)

  1. Background
    1. Of those with Acute Low Back Pain, 20% will still have functional deficit at 3 months
  2. Affect
    1. Anxiety Disorder
    2. Major Depression
    3. Feeling of Uselessness
  3. Behavior
    1. Adverse coping strategies
    2. Impaired sleep
    3. Passive role
  4. Beliefs
    1. Belief that pain is harmful and must be eliminated
  5. Social
    1. Drug Abuse, physical abuse or sexual abuse
    2. Poor social support
  6. Work
    1. Anticipating that pain will increase with work
    2. Pending litigation
  7. References
    1. Last (2009) Am Fam Physician 79(12):1067-1074. [PubMed]

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Related Studies

Ontology: Low Back Pain (C0024031)

Definition (MSH) Acute or chronic pain in the lumbar or sacral regions, which may be associated with musculo-ligamentous SPRAINS AND STRAINS; INTERVERTEBRAL DISK DISPLACEMENT; and other conditions.
Definition (AOT) see:http://www.nlm.nih.gov/mesh/MBrowser.html
Concepts Sign or Symptom (T184)
MSH D017116
ICD9 724.2
ICD10 M54.5
SnomedCT 156651006, 268083007, 202793005, 156648004, 40709005, 139421003, 267169009, 279039007
English Back Pain, Low, Back Pains, Low, Low Back Pains, Lumbago, Low Back Ache, Low Backache, Lower Back Pain, Ache, Low Back, Aches, Low Back, Back Ache, Low, Back Aches, Low, Back Pain, Lower, Back Pains, Lower, Backache, Low, Backaches, Low, Low Back Aches, Low Backaches, Lower Back Pains, Pain, Lower Back, Pains, Lower Back, LUMBAR PAIN, Pain, Low Back, Pains, Low Back, Nonspecific pain lumbar region, low back pain (symptom), lower back pain, lumbago (diagnosis), lumbar back pain, lumbar pain, lumbago, low back pain, Low back ache, Lumbago NOS, Low Back Pain [Disease/Finding], lumbalgia, Pain;back low, Pain;back;lumbar, low backache, low back pains, lower back pains, lumbar pains, Lower back pain, LBP - low back pain, Low back pain (disorder), Lumbago (disorder), backache lower, lower backache (diagnosis), lower backache, Low back pain, Low back syndrome, Lumbalgia, LBP - Low back pain, Nonspecific pain in the lumbar region, Lumbar pain, back; pain, low, backache; low, low back; pain, low; backache, pain; back, low, pain; low back, syndrome; low back, Lumbago (disorder) [Ambiguous], Low back pain (finding), Low Back Pain
Portuguese DOR LOMBAR, Moinha lombar, Dor lombar, Lombalgia, Dor Lombar, Lumbago
Dutch lumbago, pijn in de onderrug, lage rugpijn, lumbaalpijn, laag; rugpijn, lage rug; pijn, pijn; lage rug, pijn; onderste deel van rug, pijn; rug, laag, rug; pijn, laag, rugpijn; laag, syndroom; lage rug, Lage rugpijn, Lagerugpijn, Lumbago, Pijn, lagerug-
French Endolorissement de la région lombaire, Douleur dans la partie inférieure du dos, Douleur lombosacrale, DOULEUR LOMBAIRE, Douleur dorsale basse, Douleur lombaire basse, Douleur du bas du dos, Rachialgie lombo-sacrale, Rachialgie lombo-sacrée, Rachialgie lombosacrale, Rachialgie lombosacrée, Rachialgie lombaire, Lombalgie, Lumbago, Douleur lombaire, Douleur lombosacrée
German unterer Rueckenschmerz, unterer Rueckenschmerzen, lumbaler Schmerz, Kreuzschmerz, SCHMERZ LENDENGEGEND, Kreuzschmerzen, Lumbago, Lumbalsyndrom, Hexenschuß
Italian Dolore dorso-lombare, Lombalgia, Lombaggine, Dolore lombare
Spanish Dolor de la parte baja de la espalda, Dolor lumbar, dolor de espalda, LUMBAR, DOLOR, lumbalgia (trastorno), síndrome de dolor en la región inferior de la espalda, Lumbalgia, dolor inespecífico en la región lumbar, dolor lumbar, lumbago, lumbalgia (concepto no activo), lumbalgia (hallazgo), lumbalgia, Lumbago, Dolor de la Región Lumbar
Swedish Ländryggssmärta
Japanese ヨウツウショウ, ヨウツウ, 腰痛, 腰痛症
Czech lumbalgie, bolest v kříži, lumbago, Bolest dolní poloviny zad, Bederní bolest, Lumbago, ústřel, bolest bederní páteře, bolesti bederní páteře, bederní bolest
Finnish Alaselkäkipu
Korean 아래허리통증
Polish Ból krzyża, Ból dolnego odcinka kręgosłupa, Lumbago, Ból okolicy lędźwiowo-krzyżowej
Hungarian Lumbago, Alsó háti fájdalom, derékfájás, Derékfájdalom, Lumbalis fájdalom
Norwegian Lumbago, Hekseskudd, Korsryggssmerter

Ontology: Lumbar disc lesion (C0549374)

Concepts Disease or Syndrome (T047)
SnomedCT 156629003, 268076000, 274137005
Dutch tussenwervelschijflaesie lumbaal
French Lésion d'un disque lombaire, Discopathie lombaire, LESION DISQUE LOMBAIRE
German lumbale Bandscheibenschaedigung, DISKUSSCHAEDIGUNG IM LENDENBEREIC
Italian Lesione del disco lombare
Portuguese Lesão de disco lombar, Lesão do disco lombar, LESAO DO DISCO LOMBAR
Spanish Lesión de disco lumbar, lesión de disco lumbar (trastorno), lesión de disco lumbar
English Lumbar disc lesion, LUMBAR DISC LESION, Disc lesion lumbar, Lumbar disc lesion (disorder)
Japanese 腰部椎間板病変, ヨウブツイカンバンビョウヘン
Czech Léze bederní ploténky
Hungarian Lumbalis discus laesio