Low Back Pain goes Digital: a problem with solutions within a cause.

By Baiju Khanchandani, DC, European Chiropractors’ Union

The Digital Revolution is driving reduced physical activity and a sedentary life-style.  Resulting low back pain is the most significant contributor to disability in Europe while costs associated with musculoskeletal disorders drain 2-3% from the economy.  “Sitting is the new smoking” with one-hour equivalent to health cost of one cigarette; and three hours of sitting per day shorten lives by 2 years!

A Digital Transformation in Healthcare is long over-due but one area already where innovation is thriving, with a number of digital projects as a result of Horizon 2020, may even be a boon to low back pain sufferers.  Two highlighted here include chiropractors working with physiotherapists, other healthcare operators and researchers from almost a dozen European countries.

The Back-Up Project aims to develop a new health care platform with a prognostic model to support more effective and efficient management of neck and low back pain.  Back-UP takes into account the multiple factors that influence the course of neck and low back pain including the following dimensions: biological, musculoskeletal, psychological, behavioural, socioeconomic, work place and life-style. Based on patient-specific models which use this data, Back-UP provides estimates of the time frame of improvement, time to return to work in the case of sick workers, risk of recurrence, and musculoskeletal function, as well as direct and indirect economic costs of chosen interventions.

Back-UP is a platform for clinicians, occupational health services and patients, which will assist them through the whole cycle from the first visit in primary care to return to work.

On the other hand, the selfBACK project is directed at patients. It is a healthcare programme centred round self-management of low back pain, in order to prevent chronicity, recurrence and pain-related disability. The SelfBACK,Consortium coordinated by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, has developed a decision support system which delivers information to the patients through a smartphone app, providing advice to reinforce their personalised self-management plan.

Watch this space for further developments – but stand up or at least sit up straight while doing so!

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