Back Pain: Learning Is One of the Keys to Recovery




.Not all back pain is created equal. Is your pain “constant” or “intermittent”? The researchers at CBI Health Group wanted to understand the difference and whether clients with different types of pain improve differently with physiotherapy and exercise.

Constant back pain is always present; it never goes away. Intermittent back pain, as its name suggests, comes and goes; the pain may disappear for hours or days or there may be just few a moments of relief. Even short periods without the pain can be welcome relief for the back pain sufferer. Regardless of the length of time, any absence of pain is characterized as intermittent and the prognosis for recovery is usually very good. CBI’s research has shown that back pain – regardless of its type – often has a mechanical issue at its source. Constant pain is more serious because it is more aggravating to live with. The good news is that even constant pain can improve with physiotherapy and exercise.

The purpose of this study was to compare characteristics of people with constant versus intermittent back pain as they progressed through non-operative treatment. A questionnaire was distributed to people at their first clinic visit, and then each week until they completed their treatment programs, in order to evaluate change and improvements over time.

At the start of the study, 45% had constant pain and 55% had intermittent pain.

For those who had intermittent pain:

  • No one had regressed to having constant pain
  • All clients either improved/became pain free or at least stayed the same
  • 76% stated that the reason for feeling better was due to a positive response to exercise
  • Only 7% said that the change was related medication

For those experiencing constant pain:

  • 82% improved
  • 43% progressed to intermittent pain
  • 39% became pain free

Assessment by a CBI physiotherapist is an essential part of understanding your back pain and taking action to reduce – and even eliminate – it. Our physiotherapists are not just expert at designing a program to reduce your pain – they work in partnership with you to help explain the source of your pain and the best ways to manage it. Exercise is an effective means of becoming pain free for those who have either constant or intermittent pain and exercise can help prevent an episode from becoming chronic. Constant pain does not necessarily have to stay that way; chronic pain can improve to the point where it comes and goes or goes away entirely.