Pain and activity avoidance in adults with chronic non-specific low back pain – a qualitative study

Professor Devinder Singh

11Physiotherapy Programme, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Universiti Kebangsaan , Malaysia


Chronic non-specific low back pain (CNSLBP) is a major health burden around the world which costs billions of dollars in direct and indirect healthcare costs. Pain and activity avoidance is associated with CNSLBP. This is contrary to the current literature evidence indicates that activity and returning to activities of daily living can play an important role in the management of CNSLBP. The aim of this study was to explore the perspectives of pain and related activity avoidance among adults with CNSLBP.


In this qualitative study, a one to one interviews using semi structured questions was employed to garner perspective of adults with CNSLBP regarding pain and activity avoidance among eight adults with CNSLBP adults (2 males and 6 females); aged 20 to 45 years.


Most participants expressed that pain in their lower back was aggravated by prolonged static postures and activities of daily living, namely flexion of trunk, lifting, house chores and sports activities. Worrying though, these participants reported that they commonly avoided sports and social activities as a result of pain. Given the biopsychosocial nature of CNSLBP, avoiding sports and social activates, which may be act as protective factors, may contribute to ongoing chronicity.

Significance of findings to allied health

The findings of this study suggested that adults with CNSLBP avoided activities that aggravate pain, including those which research evidence indicates may be beneficial. Allied health practitioners need to engage with patients with CNSLBP through education and reassurance to facilitate reengagement with social and sporting activities.

KEYWORDS : Pain, activity avoidance, chronic non-specific low back pain

Acknowledgement : This study was funded using a grant from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia: GUP-2015-046.