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New ACC back guide a treatment milestone

New ACC back guide a treatment milestone

ACC's New Zealand Acute Low Back Pain Guide, which has just been launched, is a treatment milestone for a health problem that affects nearly everybody at some time, says the Minister for ACC, Hon Ruth Dyson. Ms Dyson said the guide reflects the movement of low back pain management to treatments based on reassurance, encouragement of activity and pain relief and manipulation in the acute phase.

In 2002/03, there were 176,000 back injury claims to ACC, with 19,000 moderate-to-serious claims on their own costing ACC $223 million.

ACC Chief Executive Garry Wilson said the Acute Low Back Pain Guide is a thoroughly revised third edition based on an extensive review of international literature that includes for the first time The Guide to Assessing Psychosocial Yellow Flags in Acute Low Back Pain.

Mr Wilson said the guide was produced by a multi-disciplinary expert panel led by Dr Rob Griffiths.

"The panel has produced a guide which is scientifically credible and readable," he said.

"ACC data on the suffering and long-term disability caused by acute low back pain also gave the expert panel guidance for more effective interventions in the acute symptomatic phase that will result in markedly better long-term outcomes."

"This is a far cry from the days when treatments involved excessive investigation and medical labelling and relied too much on bed rest and surgical intervention," he said.

The guide also includes a new section, The Guide to Assessing Psychosocial Yellow Flags in Acute Low Back Pain.

"This provides an overview of the kind of factors that could unnecessarily result in long-term disability and work loss and procedures for assessing these," Mr Wilson said.

These include inappropriate beliefs about the impacts of back pain; avoidance of activity induced by fear; low mood and withdrawal from social interaction; and an expectation of passive treatments rather than active participation on the part of the patient.

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