Low-back pain

Low-back pain is a common disorder involving the muscles, nerves and bones of the back. Pain can vary from a dull constant ache to a sudden sharp feeling. Low-back pain is usually classified by duration as acute (pain lasting less than six weeks), sub-chronic (six to 12 weeks) or chronic (more than 12 weeks). IWH research looks at the occupational risk factors for back pain, how to treat and manage it, and prognostic factors related to recovery and return to work.

Journal article
Journal article

Lack of prognostic model validation in low back pain prediction studies: a systematic review

Published: Clinical Journal of Pain, August 2018
Journal article
Journal article

Systematic review of prognostic factors for return to work in workers with sub acute and chronic low back pain

Published: Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, September 2017
Journal article
The Guardian logo
IWH in the media

Epidemic of untreatable back an neck pain costs billions, study finds

Costing the US alone $88bn a year, low back and neck pain is widespread and expensive. Dr. Andrea Furlan of the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) and Cochrane Back and Neck discusses treatment options that are recommended, as well as some that aren't.
Published: The Guardian, February 2017
Consumer Reports logo
IWH in the media

Should you try massage for back pain?

How does a rubdown compare with physical therapy and acupuncture for treating back pain? Institute for Work & Health's Dr. Andrea Furlan comments on the research evidence.
Published: Consumer Reports, July 2016
A physiotherapist is treating a man with neck and back pain
Tools and guides

QuickDecks: Best evidence in back and neck pain care

QuickDecks are slides summarizing findings from systematic reviews on the treatment of back and neck pain in adults. The slides are based on reviews published in the Cochrane Library, and are compiled by Cochrane Back and Neck, housed at the Institute for Work & Health.
Published: January 2015
IWH Speaker Series
IWH Speaker Series

Returning to work following low-back pain: Do prognostic factors differ for acute, subacute and chronic pain?

How long does it take for someone with low-back pain to recover enough to return to work? That's a question often asked by the worker, the employer, and the workers' compensation agency alike. In this plenary, Dr. Ivan Steenstra shares prognostic factors for subacute and chronic low-back pain and compares them with prognostic factors for acute pain. He also discusses how stakeholders use prognostic information, and how their understanding of prognostic factors compares to his own findings.
Published: November 2014