Why do we believe the things we do about low back pain?

A key focus of the Pain-Ed team is changing beliefs about chronic pain. One of the key reasons we focus on this is because beliefs about pain are closely related to prognosis – those with the most fearful, pessimistic beliefs about what pain means, and what the future holds, typically end up with the worst disability and poorest quality of life. It appears that a wide range of factors influence our beliefs about low back pain. A study by members of the Pain-Ed team at Curtin University, West Australia examined low back pain beliefs among adolescents. Unsurprisingly, those with low back pain which affected their daily activity displayed more pessimistic beliefs about low back pain. However, experiencing low back pain which did not have a major impact on daily activities was actually linked to more positive beliefs about low back pain. A range of other factors – including gender, body mass index, family income, mental health and the beliefs of primary caregivers such as parents – were related to low back pain beliefs highlighting the need to consider a broad range of factors if we are to successfully change beliefs about low back pain.

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