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The foundations for chronic low back pain management may start in early life. Exploring the role of caregiver postnatal leave on future low back pain in the offspring

Published:January 13, 2023DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpain.2023.01.008

      Highlights

      • Early life experiences including parent-child relationships influence emotional development
      • Postnatal leave is a social policy that could support early life relationships
      • Supporting psychological health in early life could impact back pain in later life
      • We suggest research directions to reduce the burden of low back pain in future generations

      Abstract

      Chronic low back pain is difficult to treat and despite increased spending on health services, clinical outcomes for people with low back pain have not improved. Innovative, large scale initiatives seem necessary to stem the cost of low back pain. Psychological health contributes to the development and persistence of chronic low back pain and psychological interventions are important in the management of low back pain. Given the contribution of psychological health to low back pain development and management, it raises the question; can we support psychological health in later life by bolstering emotional development in early life, and reduce the burden of this common condition?
      Positive early life experiences, including those induced by extended paid postnatal leave, could bolster emotional development and support the psychological health necessary to manage low back pain in later life. We present the current state of evidence demonstrating the potential value of increasing support for parent-child relationships in early life to reduce the burden of low back pain in future generations. The current evidence is limited to cross-sectional associations, but strong preclinical data clearly shows the potential negative impacts of maternal separation on rodent pup health that compels consideration in human populations.

      Perspective

      The benefits stemming from enhanced child development include stable emotional foundations, possibly improving psychological health and low back pain management in the future. This perspective raises questions for future studies – within the context of low back pain, what ingredients bolster stable psychological health? And are these ingredients influenced by postnatal leave?

      Keywords

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