Background. Despite the availability of evidence-based guidelines to diagnose and treat acute low-back pain, practical application is nonuniform and physician uncertainty regarding best practices is widespread.
Objective. The objective of this study was to further optimal treatment choices for screening, diagnosing, and treating acute low-back pain caused by paraspinous muscle spasm.
Methods. Four experts in pain medicine (three family physicians and one physiatrist) participated in a roundtable conference call on October 18, 2010, to examine current common practices and guidelines for diagnosing and treating acute low-back pain and to offer commentary and examples from their clinical experience.
Results. Participants discussed the preferred choices and timing of diagnostic and imaging tests, nonpharmacologic therapies, nonopioid and opioid medication use, biopsychosocial evaluation, complementary therapies, and other issues related to treatment of acute low-back pain. Principal clinical recommendations to emerge included thorough physical exam and medical history, early patient mobilization, conservative use of imaging tests, early administration of muscle relaxants combined with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and spasm, and a strong emphasis on patient education and physician–patient communication.
Conclusions. Early, active management of acute low-back symptoms during the initial onset may lead to better patient outcomes, reducing related pain and disability and, possibly, preventing progression to chronicity.