De-educate to re-educate: aging and low back pain.

Patients’ beliefs about their condition have been shown to play a significant role in their pain experience and response to treatment, especially when a patient sees their tissue health as vulnerable or aged. Educational can alter these beliefs. Prior to new information, patients often have to be de-educated regarding common misbeliefs to undergo re-education. The aim of this study was to  determine if a brief de-education session regarding aging and low back pain (LBP) can shift pain ratings, fear-avoidance beliefs, beliefs regarding aging and LBP, and limited active trunk flexion.

Fifty adults ranging from 50 to 93 years of age (SD = 10.73) with a 15.1 years of LBP were education on the poor correlation between aging and LBP. Prior to and immediately after the education pain ratings for LBP and leg pain (numeric pain rating scale-NPRS), fear-avoidance (fear avoidance beliefs questionnaire-FABQ), beliefs regarding aging and LBP (Likert scale) and active trunk flexion were measured. Significant changes were found in positive shifts with LBP (p = 0.002), leg pain (p = 0.042), FABQ-physical activity subscale (p = 0.004) and active trunk forward flexion (p < 0.001).

The results show that education aimed at altering beliefs regarding LBP and aging result in a positive shift in pain, fear avoidance related to physical activity and active trunk flexion. Prior to providing patients with new healthcare information, de-educating them regarding poor beliefs may be helpful in shifting them towards new, healthier paradigms associated with their condition.