The approach of physiatrists to low back pain across Europe

Fitnat Dincer, Serdar Kesikburun, Oya Ozdemir, Evren Yaşar, Susana Munoz, Raquel Valero, Alvydas Juocevidius, Michail Quittan, Aet Lukmann, Andreas Winkelman, Anita Vetra, Björn Gerdle, Carlotte Kiekens, Catarina Aguiar Branco, Eimear Smith, Mark Delargy, Elena Ilieva, François Constant Boyer, Frane Grubisic, Hermina DamjanLiisamari Krüger, Markku Kankaanpää, Erieta Nikolikj Dimitrova, Marina Delic, Milica Lazovic, Natasa Tomic, Nikolaos Roussos, Xanthi Michail, Paolo Boldrini, Stefano Negrini, Peter Takac, Piotr Tederko, Yvona Angerova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Low back pain (LBP) is the most common type of musculoskeletal pain, thus it is one of the most commonly encountered conditions in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. The physicians who are primarily responsible for the nonsurgical management of LBP are physiatrists.

OBJECTIVE: The present study aimed to investigate the approaches of physiatrists to low back pain across Europe. Preferences, tendencies, and priorities in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of LBP, as well as the epidemiological data pertaining to LBP in PRM practice were evaluated in this Europe-wide study.

METHODS: The study was conducted under the control of the European Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ESPRM) Musculoskeletal Disorders Research Committee. A total of 576 physiatrists from most European countries participated in the survey.

RESULTS: The results show that physiatrists frequently deal with patients with LBP in their daily practice. Most patients are not referred to other departments and are treated with various conservative methods. Less than one-fifth of patients are primarily referred for surgery. The physiatrists believe that a clear diagnosis to account for cases of low back pain is rarely established. The most common diagnosis is discopathy. History and physical examination remain the most valuable clinical evaluation tools for low back pain according to physiatrists. Less than half the patients require a magnetic resonance imaging. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the most commonly prescribed drugs for low back pain. Exercise, back care information, and physical therapy are the preferred conservative treatments. More than half of the physiatrists offer interventional treatments to patients with low back pain.

CONCLUSION: The present study is a preliminary report that presents the attitudes of European physiatrists in the management of low back pain. Further researches are warranted to standardize the conservative management of LBP.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation
Publication statusPublished - Jan 16 2019


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