Physicians and patients aren’t on the same page when it comes to the desire to retain mobility–at least when pain is part of the equation. According to a recent study involving participants with back pain, when given a choice between mobility and pain relief, patients overwhelmingly choose pain relief.
Out of the approximately 300 patients participating in the University of Rochester study, nearly 80 percent opted for treatments that may reduce or eliminate their pain. The same was true even if pain-relieving treatment would limit mobility to the point where it would be difficult to perform simple tasks like walking to the mailbox.
The results of this study show that patients don’t just want increased mobility at any cost. Researchers suggest that it’s time to place a greater emphasis on patient input, especially when it comes to developing new medications for conditions like chronic back pain.
The current line of thinking is that new generation medications for back pain relief should improve pain and restore function simultaneously. While patients still want medications that are safe and effective, those medications should also meet patient expectations of pain relief, according to researchers.
There is middle ground to be found. Patients with neurogenic claudication (a set of symptoms associated with spinal stenosis), for instance, often experience pain, cramping, weakness and tingling extending to the lower back, buttocks, and legs. Patients experiencing such symptoms, if the survey results are applied, would likely prefer that such pain goes away first before worrying about restoring full movement. A happy medium would be recommending medications that mainly deal with pain while relying more on physical therapy and other non-surgical spine treatments to treat mobility issues.
These results suggest that doctors for back pain, pharmacists, and drug manufacturers need to reach a middle ground with patients when it comes to expectations of pain relief. While the focus on restoring mobility is understandable, research like this suggests that it shouldn’t be a goal that’s achieved at the expense of meaningful pain relief.
At The Spine Institute, spine surgeons, Beverly Hills patients trust, work hard to help patients find pain relief while maintaining mobility. For a second opinion or to learn more about your treatment options, give us a call at (310) 828-7757.