Do patients with low back pain consider pain a signal to stop being active? A cross sectional study of patients being referred to secondary care

Allan Riis, Emma Louise Karran, Anette Jørgensen, Søren Holst, Nanna Rolving

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstract in journalpeer-review



Advice to stay active should be delivered to all patients with low back pain (LBP) without a serious underlying condition. However, some patients still believe that the avoidance of activities will help them to recover. These patients may be less likely to experience favourable outcomes.


To investigate how many patients consider LBP to be a signal to stop being active.


This was a cross sectional study involving adults with LBP referred from general practices to the Spine Centre at Silkeborg Regional Hospital, Denmark. Patients who completed a routinely delivered electronic questionnaire prior to initial consultation were considered for inclusion. Patients were excluded if serious pathology was suspected. Included patients replied to additional socio-demographic questions, attitudes to spinal imaging, and beliefs about LBP. The question: ‘if pain is increasing, it is a warning signal to stop with my physical activities until pain is decreasing’ from 0 to 10. Scores of 0–5 were coded as ‘disagree’ and scores of 6–10 were coded as ‘agree’.


826 consecutive patients were included during 2017. Mean age was 52.7 years (SD 13.8) and 458 (55.5%) were women. 749 (90.7%) had chronic LBP, the mean NPR was 5.2 (SD 2.5), and the mean RMDQ score was 14.0 (SD 4.9). 605 (73.2%) agreed that pain is a warning signal to stop being active and 727 (88.1%) considered MR scans and x-rays to be important for their recovery.


Patients with LBP patients frequently hold erroneous beliefs that may be detrimental for recovery.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrthopeadic Proceedings
Issue numberSuppl. 9
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes
EventSociety for Back Pain Research 2018 - Groningen, Netherlands
Duration: 15 Nov 201816 Nov 2018


ConferenceSociety for Back Pain Research 2018
Internet address


  • physiotherapy

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