DR JOHN PANAGOPOULOS | ENDING BACK PAIN

Sep 27, 2017

On today’s Show, we speak with Dr John Panagopoulos, an expert in lower back pain. Having graduated from the University of Sydney, John has been a practising physiotherapist for over 20 years, working in Australia and abroad. He also has a Bachelor of Medical Science, majoring in Anatomy. John recently completed a PhD in Low Back Pain in conjunction with the Macquarie University. He is hoping this research will help improve the way medical professionals assess and treat Low Back Pain. John is one of the few physiotherapists in this country using visceral mobilisation techniques to help patients who suffer from visceral pain. John has published numerous research articles in prestigious medical journals and has presented at International Conferences. He is an invited reviewer for the journals “Spine” and regularly reviews new research prior to publication. John has worked with many and varied sporting organisations during his career, including in professional cricket and rugby. John continues to consult with athletes from sporting organisations such as the Central Coast Mariners and the NSW Waratahs.

Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain. – Charlie Chaplin

Valuable Links and References

Background – Lower Back Pain (LBP)

Low back pain is a very common health problem worldwide and a major cause of disability – affecting performance at work and general well-being. Low back pain can be acute, sub-acute, or chronic. Though several risk factors have been identified (including occupational posture, depressive moods, obesity, body height and age), the causes of the onset of low back pain remain obscure and diagnosis difficult to make. Back pain is not a disease but a constellation of symptoms. In most cases, the origins remain unknown (or so they believe).

Low back pain affects people of all ages, from children to the elderly, and is a very frequent reason for medical consultations. The 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study estimated that low back pain is among the top 10 diseases and injuries that account for the highest number of DALYs worldwide. It is difficult to estimate the incidence of low back pain as the incidence of first-ever episodes of low back pain is already high by early adulthood and symptoms tend to recur over time. The lifetime prevalence of non-specific (common) low back pain is estimated at 60% to 70% in industrialised countries (one-year prevalence 15% to 45%, adult incidence 5% per year). The prevalence rate for children and adolescents is lower than that seen in adults but is rising. Prevalence increases and peaks between the ages of 35 and 55.4 As the world population ages, low back pain will increase substantially due to the deterioration of the intervertebral discs in older people.

Low back pain is the leading cause of activity limitation and work absence throughout much of the world, imposing a high economic burden on individuals, families, communities, industry, and governments. Several studies have been performed in Europe to evaluate the social and economic impact of low back pain. In the United Kingdom, low back pain was identified as the most common cause of disability in young adults, with more than 100 million workdays lost per year. In Sweden, a survey suggested that low back pain accounted for a quadrupling of the number of work days lost from 7 million in 1980 to 28 million by 1987. In the United States, an estimated 149 million work days are lost every year because of low back pain, with total costs estimated to be US$ 100 to 200 billion a year (of which two-thirds is due to lost wages and lower productivity).

At present low back pain is treated mainly with analgesics. The causes of lower back pain are rarely addressed. Alternative treatments include physical therapy, rehabilitation and spinal manipulation. Disc surgery remains the last option when all other strategies have failed, but the outcomes are disappointing.

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