Patient education as an integral tool in relieving and preventing back pain has been touted for many years. Yet for a variety of reasons this intervention is only widely used in the very large rehabilitation centres. Time constraints and an evolving funding model explain the absence from standard medical and therapy practice of widespread and dynamic patient education.
The value of “back schools” (a program of intense back care education, exercise and body mechanics advice) to control back pain was popularized in Sweden at the Volvo plant in the early 1970s. California Back Schools started shortly thereafter. At about the same time, the New Zealand physiotherapist Robin McKenzie initiated a revolutionary approach to treating “mechanical low back pain”.
Fast forward to where we are today. The efficacy of a concerted attempt at patient education and exercise training as the cornerstone of treating back pain is well known, yet strikingly underused in practice. A systematic review of the spine literature of 12 years ago (Hymans et al., 2005) reported moderately high evidence for this intervention in reducing pain and improving function in both the short and intermediate term. The back school results were reported to be more effective than placebo, manual therapy and other physical therapy type interventions. The findings also indicated that back school intervention resulted in less use of pain and anti-inflammatory medication. More recently, in a randomized controlled trial, the addition of back school intervention to a regular physiotherapy program was proven to be more effective than physical modalities alone (Sahin et al., 2011).
To be most effective in a modern clinical setting, the Back School program will have to adjust to the need for rapid dissemination of the most current information. Strategic use of lumbar stabilization exercises, patient training in self care, body mechanics and the improved general knowledge of back function will render the back school approach both cost effective and helpful in prevention and recovery. The new Rejuvenation Health Back School program utilizes a strong patient education focus. It also includes meaningful spinal muscle training along with established approaches to back care pioneered by McKenzie and Hamilton Hall.
Rejuvenation Back School has started sessions at our Terwillegar and West clinics and will begin at our Meadows location in mid June. We look forward to having your patients as a part of this exciting therapeutic approach. Please refer them to one of our three locations listed below for further information.