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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.
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).
Randomized controlled trial.
Outpatient clinics of two VA Medical Centers.
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.
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.
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%).
These preliminary data suggest that ABC care for older veterans with CLBP is feasible and may reduce pain and exposure to other potential morbidity.