Aim. The aim of this study was to examine pain and quality of life in a group of preoperative chronic low back pain patients (n = 25) and a group of postoperative chronic low back pain patients (n = 101) treated with instrumented fusion 1–8 years ago.
Background. Reduced quality of life is common in chronic low back pain patients and the aim of treatment is to improve quality of life.
Design. In the present study, a comparative survey design was used.
Methods. The McGill Pain Questionnaire and the SF-36 Health Survey were used to examine pain and quality of life.
Results. The pre- and postoperative groups did not differ with regard to age, gender, education, other chronic conditions or previous spinal surgery. Compared with the preoperative group, the postoperative group reported significantly lower total, sensory, affective and evaluative pain, used less pain medication (p < 0·05) and reported better scores in all SF-36 components (p < 0·05), except for general health. The effect size was ≥0·8 for all pain components and ≥0·4 for all SF-36 components, except for general health (effect size = 0·009). With regard to long-term follow-up, patients who underwent surgery 5–8 years ago reported better physical role functioning (p < 0·05) compared with those who underwent surgery 1–2 years ago.
Conclusion. Results showed that the postoperative group reported significantly less pain and better physical and mental health compared with the preoperative group. However, despite surgery, the postoperative group reported suffering from pain and reduced quality of life.
Relevance to clinical practice. Psychosocial interventions focusing on psychosocial consequences of pain are needed to modify the pain experience and increase the quality of life in patients who have undergone this kind of surgery.