The Foundations for Chronic Low Back Pain Management may Start in Early Life. Exploring the Role of Caregiver Parental Leave on Future Low Back Pain in the Offspring

Edel T. O'Hagan, Sarah B. Wallwork, Emily Callander, Tasha R. Stanton, Richelle Mychasiuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 parental 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)939-945
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Maternal separation
  • health economics
  • neurodevelopment
  • prevention
  • psychological health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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