Background: Disease monitoring is an important element of self-management of several chronic diseases. Pain monitoring has become very easily available, but the role in musculoskeletal pain conditions is not clear. Awareness of pain might be helpful for people to understand pain, but focusing on pain may on the contrary negatively affect pain experience and behaviours. The objective of this study was to investigate the potential impact of pain monitoring on low back pain (LBP), specifically to determine if pain intensity, activity limitation and pain control, differed between patients with weekly pain monitoring over 12 months and patients with follow-ups at 2 weeks, 3 months and 12 months.
Methods: This was a non-randomised controlled study embedded in a cohort study with data collection November 1st 2016 to December 21st 2018. Adults seeking care for LBP were enrolled at the first visit to a chiropractor and followed with surveys after 2 weeks, 3 months and 12 months. Those enrolled first, n = 1,623, furthermore received weekly SMS-questions about pain frequency and pain intensity, whereas those enrolled next was the control group, n = 1,269 followed only by surveys. Outcomes at 12-months were compared, adjusting for group differences on baseline parameters.
Results: LBP intensity (0–10) was slightly lower at 12-months follow-up in the SMS group than the control group (adjusted beta − 0.40 (95% CI: − 0.62; − 0.19)). No relevant between-group differences were observed for activity limitation (0–100) (1.51 (95% CI: − 0.83; 3.85)) or ability to control pain (0–10) (− 0.08 (95% CI − 0.31; 0.15)).
Conclusions: Frequent pain monitoring did not demonstrate any negative effects of weekly pain monitoring, and it was perhaps even helpful. The role of self-monitoring as part of self-managing LBP should be explored further including optimal frequencies, formats, and methods for feedback.
Trial registration: The study was not registered as a clinical trial.
Author keywords: Back pain — Data collection — Monitoring — Pain measurement — Self-management
Author affiliations: AK, TSJ, KD, LH: Chiropractic Knowledge Hub, Odense, Denmark; AK, TSJ, KD, LH: Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark; LH: Diagnostic Center, Silkeborg Regional Hospital, Silkeborg, Denmark
Corresponding author: Alice Kongsted—firstname.lastname@example.org
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