Objective - To investigate whether physical examination findings can be used in predicting recovery from back pain and new episodes of sick leave.
Design - One-year prospective study of a single cohort.
Settings - Semi-rural Swedish county.
Population - A cross-section of a general population with back pain (207 women, 176 men) between 20 and 59 years of age.
Main outcome measures - Cumulative incidence of sick leave due to back pain, cumulative incidence of sick leave due to back pain > 30 days, incidence of recovery from back pain.
Results - For recovery from pain, the absence of tenderness in the trapezius muscle (OR 0.33, CI 0.1-0.5) was predictive. New sick leave was predicted by tenderness in the trapezius muscle (OR 2.67, CI 1.5-4.9), and had a tendency to be associated with a flattened lumbar lordosis and a restricted cervical range of motion. For long-term sick leave, the same findings and also observation of scoliosis (OR 3.44, CI 1.1-10.5) were predictive.
Conclusion - There are subgroups with back pain predisposed to development of more persistent symptoms and a higher risk for sick-listing.
2000. Vol. 18, no 4, 208-214 p.