Several interesting studies were presented at the annual European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (EFORT; 23–25 May, Berlin, Germany), including a study that found that there are more motorcycle accidents and more accidents involving pedestrians during the transitions to autumn and spring time.
Springing forward and falling back increases the risk of traffic accidents
The study, led by Joseph Alsousou, Department of Orthopaedic Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Science, University of Oxford, Oxford Trauma Unit, John Radcliff Hospital, Oxford, UK, found that the switch from autumn/winter time in the UK (Greenwich mean time; GMT) to spring/summer time (British summer time, BST; GMT plus one hour) was associated with an increased number of traffic accidents in nearly all groups studied. In particular, the number of accidents involving motorcyclists increased by 42.2%. During this transition, the number of serious or fatal accidents involving pedestrians decreased by 7.9% but they increased during the transition from BST to GMT by 29.2%. The number of accidents involving motorists also increased, by 18.6%, in the BST to GMT transition.
Alsousou told Spinal News International: “We have attributed the increase in risk road traffic accidents during daylight saving time transition to time shift, which leads to light level changes. We recognise that this may be a direct or indirect effect, with physiological or behavioural responses responsible for our findings. I think this is a complex phenomenon resulting from time-transition effect on multiple factors and cannot be simply attributed to one cause.”
Working can be a real pain in the back
According to a new Australian study of patients who sought treatment for a new episode of back pain, difficulties at work can increase back pain. Markus Melloh, Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, Perth, Australia, and colleagues found that patients who were unhappy with their job and who had a “resigned” attitude towards it were at increased risk of their acute back pain becoming chronic back pain. Melloh said: “As so often with back pain, physical causes and medical solutions are not the only priority aspects. Psychosocial problems must also be recognised and resolved.” Melloh et al also reported that social support at work could be a “strong factor” preventing chronic back pain. They noted that the additional costs of this social support would be outweighed by the cost savings of reduced sick leave, hospital stays, and physician and medical costs.
In another study, Melloh found–similar to the study, by Michael Hanna (Mercury Spine Healthcare Consulting, Middletown, USA) and colleagues, reported in the latest issue of Spinal News International–that depression delays recovery after treatment for back pain. Melloh said: “My recommendation for health practitioners treating depressive patients with acute back pain would therefore be to keep close watch on their patients’ psychological state because those have a worse chance of recovery. Accompanying measures and activities such as counselling with psychologists, participation in a self-help group, or the use of anti-depressive medications would be advisable.”