The programme is for patients with persistent low back pain who are struggling to function and manage their pain effectively. This could include patients who have become fearful of moving, have unhelpful beliefs about the nature of their pain or are struggling to stay at work due to their pain. A screening tool, the Startback Questionnaire, can help to identify patients who are most likely to benefit from this intervention.
The programmes are led by a doctor, a physiotherapist and a pain counsellor. Participation is usually in small groups and includes physical exercise sessions, education regarding the biology of pain, management of flare-ups, graded activity and goal setting. Patients are taught relaxation skills and introduced to the concepts of visualisation and Mindfulness to help with rehabilitation. On a case-by-case basis, patients are helped to reduce their reliance and use of analgesic medication.
The programme runs twice weekly, on a Wednesday from 2-4pm and on a Friday afternoon from 1pm-2pm and continues over a period of four weeks. Patients then attend a follow-up session four weeks later on a Wednesday afternoon. Patients can be seen on a one-to-one basis if they are unable to commit to a group programme.
It is recommended that GPs make a direct referral to the Back to Life Programme by letter. The letter should include a short synopsis of the patients back pain history and any recent investigations or treatments are detailed.
Through careful evidence-based assessment screening and treatment, the Birmingham Functional Restoration service can train patients with persistent back pain to become experts at managing their persistent pain and improving their function and quality of life. The NICE guidance states that a “key focus is helping people with persistent non-specific low back pain to self-manage their condition”.
Rogers D, Nightingale P, Gardner A.
A 12‐h combined physical and psychological treatment
programme for patientswith persistent back pain. Musculoskeletal
Care. 2018;1–4. https://doi.org/10.1002/msc.1235