Background: Although recurrence is common after an acute episode of low back pain, estimates of recurrence rates vary widely and predictors of recurrence remain largely unknown.Objective: The purposes of the study were to determine the 1-year incidence of recurrence in participants who recovered from an acute episode of low back pain and to identify predictors of recurrence.Design: The design was an inception cohort study nested in a case-crossover study.Methods: For 12 months, 832 of the 999 participants who initially presented to primary care within the first 7 days of an episode of low back pain were followed. Of these participants, 469 recovered (1 month pain free) from the index episode within 6 weeks and were included in this study. Recurrence was defined as a new episode lasting more than 1 day, or as an episode of care seeking. Putative predictors were assessed at baseline and chosen a priori. Multivariable regression analysis was used to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).Results: The 1-year incidence of recurrence of low back pain was 33%, and the 1-year incidence of recurrence of low back pain with care seeking was 18%. Participants reporting more than 2 previous episodes of low back pain had increased odds of future recurrences (OR = 3.18, CI = 2.11-4.78). This factor was also associated with recurrent episodes that led to care seeking (OR = 2.87, CI = 1.73-4.78). No other factors were associated with recurrences.Limitations: There are limitations inherent in reliance on recall.Conclusions: After an acute episode of low back pain, one-third of patients will experience a recurrent episode, and approximately half of those will seek care. Experiencing more than 2 previous episodes of low back pain triples the odds of a recurrence within 1 year.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1093/ptj/pzx067, hdl.handle.net/1765/102316
Journal Physical Therapy
Citation
Machado, G.C. (Gustavo C.), Maher, C, Ferreira, P.H, Latimer, J, Koes, B.W, Steffens, M, & Ferreira, M.L. (2017). Can Recurrence After an Acute Episode of Low Back Pain Be Predicted?. Physical Therapy, 97(9), 889–895. doi:10.1093/ptj/pzx067