Review of The Lancet Article: Low Back Pain: A Call To Action (Part Three)

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

This week, we’re going to review the last of the three papers from a recent series published in The Lancet on March 21, 2018. If you don’t know the impact or why this series is so important, please review the last two episodes of the Chiropractic Forward Podcast at or the last two articles of my blog over at That will get you up to speed. In short, the series on low back pain was compiled and authored by an international panel of experts on the matter. Essentially, the best of the best. This series is as up to date, as current, and as reliable as can be had at this point in our understanding of low back pain, so it is worth your time and attention.

This last of the three papers is titled “Low Back Pain: A Call To Action.”


We have already covered several times that low back pain is now the leading cause of disability globally and is only growing in significance because the global population is living longer. The issue may be more profound in low to middle-income countries. In addition, most low back pain doesn’t even appear to be directly related to any specific trigger or origin. Some of the key areas for improvement for the treatment of low back pain are in health & workplace policies as well as disability benefits and payments. They claim they are wasteful and can certainly stand a re-boot. In many cases, patients are being restricted from attempting resolution of the back pain via conservative approaches such as self-management support, specialized interventions like spinal manipulations (I added that part) and multidisciplinary rehab.

The panel suggests the following:

  1. Address the political aspect. They recommend calling on the World Health Organization to make low back pain one of its priorities by putting it on the target list in an effort to increase attention and decrease treatment that is not recommended initially. They recommend calling on political, medical, and social leaders to make sure public health initiatives are properly funded and geared toward the prevention of low back pain and treatment.
  2. Public health challenge.
    • Change priorities – Make low back pain a priority. Create and implement ways to prevent it and combine these strategies with other strategies that are chronic and somewhat related. Strategies such as weighing the right amount, being active physically, and maintaining good mental health as well. These tactics treat more than simply low back pain. The panel also recommends strategies that can modify the factors putting the population at risk of developing low back pain.
    • Change systems and change practice – Provide early recommendations for maintaining workload as much as possible and/or return to work as quickly as possible. Attempt to ensure early ID of people that are at risk of developing long-term, chronic disability as a result of low back pain. Address co-morbidities raising a person’s risk of developing low back pain and promote a healthier lifestyle in addition to altering disability benefits and get people back to work as soon as possible. And lastly, address low back pain through multidisciplinary rehabilitation in an effort to return the patient to work quickly.
  3. Healthcare challenge –
    • Change culture – The panel appears to me to be promoting the use of a Public Relations campaign to focus and promote living well with low back pain, self-management, staying healthy, and to change the public perception of low back pain.
    • Change clinician behavior – The recommendation is to place effort and finances into finding out the best way to change the way clinicians recommend care for low back pain and to fill the evidence/real world gap. After developing the best evidence-based systems, there will be a need to get everyone on the same team in regards to the way clinicians refer and treat, the patients, as well as the professional journals.
    • Change systems – There is a need to develop and implement systems allowing a patient to receive the right care at the right time. Clinical pathways will need a reboot and will need to become consistent across interdisciplinary lines and differing clinical settings.
    • Tackle Vested Interests – The panel discusses the fact that governments and insurance companies need to regulate in a manner consistent with evidence-based treatment for low back pain and eliminate conflicts of interest. Regulation through contracts, and payment schedules for treatments with little to no evidence for effectiveness.

The idea that a healthy weight and regular physical activity will help reduce low back pain must enter the global subconscious through public programs, especially in low to middle-income countries.

An assertion I fully agree with the authors on is that, thus far, healthcare dollars have been wasted on treatments that are ineffective and, many times, downright dangerous. The risk vs. reward ration just doesn’t make sense more times than not currently. Not to mention the issue of opioid addiction, which we all should know the stats on by now.

Boiling it down, the panel aims to get rid of practices that harm and create waste while, at the same time, opening the door to effective and affordable means of treating low back pain to patients in need. The authors are quoted here as saying,”Protection of the public from unproven or harmful approaches to managing low back pain requires that governments and health-care leaders tackle entrenched and counterproductive reimbursement strategies, vested interests, and financial and professional incentives that maintain the status quo.”

The authors promote the idea of implementing a positive health concept as the umbrella idea aiming for prevention of long-term disability. This includes alternatives to treatments and cures and promoting more meaningful lives.

Another great quote from this third paper is as follows, “Improved training and support of primary care doctors and other professionals engaged in activity and lifestyle facilitation, such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, nurses, and community workers, could minimize the use of unnecessary medical care.”

The panel also calls for an active monitoring system in order to assess and keep an eye on the recommendations and implementation as well as the outcomes of the changes.

To read more for yourself, follow this link to the third paper:

If access is unavailable, just simply register at The Lancet. It is completely free of charge.


Paper 1 – “What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention:
Paper 2 “Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions.”:
Paper 3 – “Low back pain: a call for action”:

Did you know that research and clinical experience shows that, in about 80%-90% of headaches, neck, and back pain, in comparison to the traditional medical model, patients get good or excellent results with Chiropractic? Chiropractic care is safe, more cost-effective, it decreases your chances of having surgery, and it reduces your chances of becoming disabled. We do this conservatively and non-surgically. In addition, we can do it with minimal time requirements and minimal hassle on the part of the patient. And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward from initial recovery, we can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health!

Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me your thoughts. I’d love to hear what you think. And….SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!! We cannot make a difference without your help.

Till next time……
The Amarillo Chiropractor Blog is written by Dr. Jeff Williams.
Amarillo TX Amarillo Pain & Accident Chiropractic Clinic provides customized chiropractic care to the Amarillo TX, Canyon TX, Pampa TX, Happy TX, White Deer TX, Dumas TX, Groom TX, Conway TX, Panhandle TX, Claude TX, Clarendon TX, Borger TX, Tulia, TX, Hereford TX, Fritch TX, Bushland TX, and Vega TX communities.

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