STarTBack is making a real impact in helping millions defy chronic back pain

A scientist looking at a test tube which has purple liquid in it.

Back pain affects around one third of the UK adult population at some point each year.

Ongoing severe back pain (known as chronic back pain when lasting more than three months) can impact on a person’s ability to work and carry out daily activities, as well as affecting relationships, sleep and mood.  

There are a range of treatments available for back pain, including painkillers and other drugs, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and surgery – but previously it was unclear which patients would benefit most from which treatment. 

Defying back pain

Versus Arthritis researchers at our primary care centre at Keele University, developed the STarTBack approach to help doctors better understand how, or if, lower back pain would become chronic.

STarTBack uses a simple questionnaire carried out by GPs and physiotherapists to help them understand the nature of an individual’s back pain, in order to categorise them into one of three bands; low, medium or high risk of developing chronic back pain.

The insights they gained allowed them to, for the first time, tailor treatments more accurately to the specific needs of patients.

Making a real impact

Since its introduction 15 years ago, STarTBack has made a real impact, including: 

  • significantly decreased disability from back pain, 
  • reduced time off work due to back pain (by 50% in trials), 
  • and saved more than £700 million in the UK.  

The research, which has transformed the treatment of lower back pain, was recognised by Universities UK, for its significant impact on millions of people’s everyday life.

Keele STarTback

We are here to help

We are committed to help people live better with back pain. We have a variety of options available for support and information, just choose what’s best for you.