The cost of low back pain

A sore back doesn’t only impact work and play, but it can also have a considerable impact on the hip pocket. For the millions of people living with back pain across the world there is an array of treatments available including acupuncture, massage, spinal manipulation, yoga, relaxation and more.

Researchers at The George recently conducted a systematic review to ascertain what treatments give value for money.

Lead author, Dr Christine Lin and colleagues assessed treatments endorsed by international guidelines for health practitioners. “We reviewed the cost-effectiveness of guideline-endorsed treatments for low back pain. For many patients, back pain can result in missing work and limit their income, so it’s vital that we can recommend cost-effective treatments to get them back to normal as soon as possible with little impact on their finances”.

“We found that the most cost-effective treatments for chronic low back pain included, exercise, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation. But surprisingly, the research showed that we don’t know whether the ‘staple treatments’ for low back pain are cost-effective. Staple treatments include advice to stay active and take medication.

The research was published in the European Spine Journal, and has earned Dr Lin the esteemed John Chalmers Post Doctoral Award at The George Institute. The Award recognises excellence and talent of staff, and specifically Christine’s work on this publication.

“I am very grateful for the award and would like to thank The George Institute and my team for this recognition”, said Christine.