Dr Kieran OSullivan on managing back pain 7 habits of highly effective clinicians. Part 2 2016
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Dr Kieran O’Sullivan, PT, PhD, was one of the first podcast guests to crack 9,000 listens! From the University of Limerick, Ireland, he has vast clinical experience and he completed a PhD on the role of sitting in back pain. In this 18-minute podcast he reviews his 2015 podcast in the first 3 minutes and then rattles off at least 7 practical tips.

Kieran was a guest of PhysioFirst (UK) when BJSM interviewed him in April 2015. The 2017 PhysioFirst conference is on April 1-2 (2017!) in Nottingham (UK) and guest speakers include Professor Paul Hodges, Dr Tania Pizzari and Dr Igor Tak.

1.00 m Back pain is neither explained by what patients and clinicians see on scans nor just by load

2.00 m When treating, you need to assess the various factors that could be playing a role, such as load, posture, stress, and address the right one.

4.00 m Should we try to prevent all back pain? Listen to Dr O’Sullivan challenge the belief that it’s important to never have back pain. He likens back pain to conditions like sadness, constipation – not great but not a major problem as long as it doesn’t persist. Athletes need to load their bodies and adapt rather than avoid load and become vulnerable (See Gabbett papers and podcast, below). Don’t pass on fear (of back pain coming on or persisting) to athletes.

5.00 m Screen for red flags of course, if the clinical picture warrants it – but most long-term back pain is NOT due to something listed as a red flag.

6.00 m Reassurance – being empathetic without inducing fear.

7.00 m Think through. What precipitated the pain? Too much load, too much stress, bad posture, movement patterns? If unknown, have patient create a pain diary. Look for trends. Examine all the dimensions of the biopsychosocial model.

9:00 m Don’t just make the diagnosis but be practical. Patient sad? Don’t just say ‘You are sad, your back pain will go away’. Provide specific treatment for the specific threat.

10:00 m Empower the patient to choose the exercises he or she wants and what he or she will do! Exercise has benefits across systems.

11:00 m Don’t give up. Here Kieran walks us through a challenging real life case. A simple tissue diagnosis would not have helped this person at the centre of the case

12:00 m Explain! Explain the pain! (HT to Professor Lorimer Moseley and Dr David Butler).

13:00 m The period at 4-6 weeks of pain can be difficult – patient has not adapted to the contemporary model and may still be on waiting list for imaging.

14:00 m What is the evidence for this approach? How does the evidence compare, with, for example Hamstring injuries?

Links to previous podcast:
2015 – Dr O’Sullivan on “Effective treatments for back pain: Kieran O'Sullivan’s practical tips within a guiding framework” http://ow.ly/4nepGu

BJSM paper:
O'Sullivan K, O'Sullivan P. The ineffectiveness of paracetamol for spinal pain provides opportunities to better manage low back pain. Br J Sports Med. 2016 Feb;50(4):197-8. http://ow.ly/4neqbS (Members Only/subscribers)

Manual Therapy paper:
Hurley J, …., O'Sullivan K. Effect of education on non-specific neck and low back pain: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Man Ther. 2016 Mar 10. pii: S1356-689X(16)00017-5. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2016.02.009. [Epub ahead of print] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27026111

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