Individuals with low back pain: how do they view physical activity?
Source: Family Practice, Volume 16, Number 1, February 1999 , pp. 39-45(7)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Background.Recent guidelines for those with acute low back pain have advocated early resumption of normal activity and increased physical activity. Little is known about the relationship between low back pain and physical activity, and on the impact of that relationship on the promotion of increased levels of physical activity within a general practice population.
Objectives.We aimed to explore associations between factors that influence changes in physical activity and the way individuals perceive and behave with their low back pain, and the impact of those perceptions and behaviour on physical activity.
Methods.Twenty-seven informants were chosen using a purposive sample from a larger group of individuals who, because of their low back trouble, had been referred by their GPs to a community-based, single-blind, randomized controlled trial (RCT) at the University of York, which is evaluating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a progressive exercise programme. Fifty-four interviews were conducted with this subgroup of the RCT; four informants were interviewed once, 19 twice and four of them three times. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using manual and computer-aided approaches.
Results.Physical activity was perceived as (i) activities of daily living, (ii) activities causing breathlessness that they went out of the way to do and (iii) more competitive-type activity. The avoidance of physical activity and fear of pain returning were the two main factors directly associated with informants' backs and changes in physical activity. These two factors hindered increases in physical activity, even though the majority of informants believed strongly that being physically active helped ease their low back pain.
Conclusions.When advocating that individuals with acute low back pain return to or increase physical activity, it is important that clinicians identify avoidance of physical activity and/or fear of pain at the earliest stage in order to tailor advice and reassurance appropriately. If avoidance of activity and fear of pain is identified and clinicians want to encourage patients to take up and sustain increased physical activity, they should explore issues of fear of pain, and avoidance of and confidence to do physical activities, in addition to other factors influencing physical activity.
Keywords:Acute low back pain, backache, interviews, physical exercise, psychosocial variables.
Document Type: Original Article
Affiliations: 1: 6 Sunnyside, West Lavington, Nr. Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 4HU, UK 2: Wellington School of Medicine, PO Box 7343, New Zealand 3: Nuffield Institute for Health, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9PL, UK 4: Institute of Rehabilitation, University of Hull, 215 Anlaby Road, Hull HU3 2PG, UK 5: Centre for Research in Primary Care, Research School of Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9PL, UK
Publication date: February 1999
- Family Practice is an international journal aimed at practitioners, teachers and researchers in the fields of family medicine, general practice and primary care in both developed and developing countries.