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Aging Back Clinics-a Geriatric Syndrome Approach to Treating Chronic Low Back Pain in Older Adults: Results of a Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial.

Weiner DK, Gentili A, Rossi M, Coffey-Vega K, Rodriguez KL, Hruska KL, Hausmann L, Perera S. Aging Back Clinics-a Geriatric Syndrome Approach to Treating Chronic Low Back Pain in Older Adults: Results of a Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial. Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.). 2020 Feb 1; 21(2):274-290.

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OBJECTIVE: Treating chronic low back pain (CLBP) with spine-focused interventions is common, potentially dangerous, and often ineffective. This preliminary trial tests the feasibility and efficacy of caring for CLBP in older adults as a geriatric syndrome in Aging Back Clinics (ABC). DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial. SETTING: Outpatient clinics of two VA Medical Centers. SUBJECTS: Fifty-five English-speaking veterans aged 60-89 with CLBP and no red flags for serious underlying illness, prior back surgery, dementia, impaired communication, or uncontrolled psychiatric illness. METHODS: Participants were randomized to ABC care or usual care (UC) and followed for six months. ABC care included 1) a structured history and physical examination to identify pain contributors, 2) structured participant education, 3) collaborative decision-making, and 4) care guided by condition-specific algorithms. Primary outcomes were low back pain severity (0-10 current and seven-day average/worst pain) and pain-related disability (Roland Morris). Secondary outcomes included the SF-12 and health care utilization. RESULTS: ABC participants experienced significantly greater reduction in seven-day average (-1.22 points, P? = 0.023) and worst pain (-1.70 points, P? = 0.003) and SF-12 interference with social activities (50.0 vs 11.5%, P? = 0.0030) at six months. ABC participants were less likely to take muscle relaxants (16.7 vs 42.3%, P? = 0.0481). Descriptively, UC participants were more likely to experience pain-related emergency room visits (45.8% vs 30.8%) and to be exposed to non-COX2 nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (73.1% vs 54.2%). CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary data suggest that ABC care for older veterans with CLBP is feasible and may reduce pain and exposure to other potential morbidity.

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