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Research Article  |   March 2001
Increased Pain Tolerance as an Indicator of Return to Work in Low-Back Injuries After Work Hardening
Author Affiliations
  • Jennifer M. Joy, PT, is Physical Therapist, Fit-to-Work Rehabilitation Clinic, Cameron Park, California
  • Jamie Lowy, PT, is Physical Therapist, Fit-to-Work Rehabilitation Clinic, Cameron Park, California
  • Jim K. Mansoor, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Physical Therapy Department, School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, California 95211; jmansoor@uop.edu
Article Information
Work and Industry / Physical Abilities
Research Article   |   March 2001
Increased Pain Tolerance as an Indicator of Return to Work in Low-Back Injuries After Work Hardening
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, March/April 2001, Vol. 55, 200-205. doi:10.5014/ajot.55.2.200
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, March/April 2001, Vol. 55, 200-205. doi:10.5014/ajot.55.2.200
Abstract

Objective.This study examined retrospective data from a multidisciplinary work-hardening program that compared patients who did and did not return to work after low-back injury. The objective of this study was to identify differences between these groups to better guide work-hardening programs and return-to-work decisions.

Method.Retrospective data from patients with low-back injuries (n = 115) who participated in a northern California work-hardening program were analyzed. Using two-way analysis of variance, male and female patients who did and did not return to work were compared.

Results.No significant differences were found between men and women for any of the variables studied. Patients who did and did not return to work were not significantly different in age, length of injury, and subjective pain at the beginning or end of the work-hardening program or in activity tolerance (p = .08). Patients who returned to work perceived a significantly (p ≤ .05) greater improvement in pain tolerance by the end of the work-hardening program than those who did not return to work.

Conclusion.The results of this study suggest that rehabilitation emphasis should not be placed on the reduction of subjective pain but, rather, on strategies to cope with existing pain while improving functional ability.