A comprehensive tool to help people manage back pain has been developed by a team of international health experts led by University of Queensland researchers.
Following extensive consultation with people living with lower back pain (LBP), MyBackPain.org.au was launched to provide tailored, trustworthy information not readily found elsewhere.
UQ School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences researcher Professor Paul Hodges said despite the widespread occurrence of LBP many people receive ineffective and unnecessary assessments and treatments.
“There are many myths surrounding back pain and many of the treatments that people use have no evidence of being effective,” he said.
“For instance, people often believe they should rest when they have back pain, but rest can actually make it harder to get over back pain.
“One of the best methods of recovery can be to stay active and resume normal activities as soon as possible.”
In Australia up to 80 per cent of the population experience back pain, with direct healthcare costs of $4.8 billion per year.
“Paracetamol is a widely taken medicine for back pain but studies have shown that it does not relieve back pain any better than a placebo treatment,” Professor Hodges said.
“There are treatments that do work, and the website provides guidance about which have the best evidence.
“When it comes to assessing back pain, health professionals are now advised to avoid sending people with back pain for scans like X-rays, MRIs and CTs, unless there is a clear reason because scans rarely identify the causes of pain and they involve unnecessary health risks such as exposure to radiation.”
Arthritis Australia CEO Andrew Mills said MyBackPain.org.au was created to provide accurate information to counter the misinformation about back pain – making it clear what back pain is and is not.
“The input from people living with LBP was crucial when creating the content and functionality of the website,” he said.
“The internet is often the first port of call for those with LBP but up-to-date accurate and unbiased evidence-based information is hard to find.
“MyBackPain.org.au contains resources to help people with back pain navigate their condition – find out what treatments work, learn from the experience of others, receive recommendations that are tailored to them, and to feel empowered to manage their own condition and know when to seek help.”
The website is a partnership between UQ, Arthritis Australia, University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, and Cochrane Back and Neck.
It is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
Medibank Better Health Fund is funding a clinical trial into the effectiveness of the website with results to be publicly available later in the year.