Survey Shows PTs – Not Their Patients – Experiencing Back Pain

Study in Spain shows key results

A survey of physical therapists (PTs) in Spain revealed that about half of all respondents had experienced moderate-to-high levels of low back pain in the last 30 days, and many had experienced neck pain in the same time frame. 

Researchers analyzed those and other areas of pain in relation to work conditions and demographic variables, and found several elements that they believe increase—and sometimes decrease—the odds of experiencing musculoskeletal pain (MP). Among the connections: larger patient loads, more hours worked per week, and more frequent use of machines and manual therapy raised the odds of some types of MSK pain, while more years of experience in the field tended to have the opposite effect.

Members of Spain’s physical therapy professional association were invited to participate in an online survey that asked them about any MP they may have experienced in the past 30 days, including the pain site as well as the severity of the pain on a 0-10 scale. For purposes of the study, researchers focused on pain episodes with ratings of 3 and above, and limited pain sites to neck, shoulders, upper back, low back, elbow/forearm, and hand/wrist.

Overall, 57% of respondents reported experiencing moderate-to-significant neck pain within the past 30 days, and 49.4% reported low back pain (LBP). Upper back pain was the third most reported site at 36.1%, followed by shoulders (33.8%), hand/wrist (32.7%), and elbow/forearm (16.7%)

In addition to its correlation to LBP, working more than 45 hours per week was also associated with higher prevalence of upper back pain compared with PTs who worked fewer than 35 hours per week.

SOURCE: PT in Motion

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