Study: Therapy may be key to drug-free treatment for chronic back pain

Therapy sessions may be the key to drug-free treatment for chronic back pain, researchers find

  • A study carried out at Brunel University, London, investigated back pain relief
  • Patients reported significant improvements after 12 one-hour therapy sessions
  • The course alters the way people’s brains process the feelings from their back 

A new drug-free treatment that ‘retrains’ the brain can provide long-term relief from back pain, a study has found.

Patients reported significant improvements after the 12-week course, which consisted of one hour with a therapist each week.

Dr Neil O’Connell, who worked on the trial at Brunel University, London, said: ‘These results show real promise.’

Around 11million people in the UK suffer from back pain, making it the leading cause of disability.

‘Sensorimotor retraining’ changes the way people think about their condition, so they no longer see it as a defect or barrier to movement.

Patients seeking treatment for back pain reported significant improvements after the 12-week course of one-hour therapy, which consisted of one hour with a therapist each week

The course alters the way people process feelings from their back – patients watch videos of others performing back movements, before copying the moves themselves.

Researchers analysed 276 patients with chronic lower back pain, with half completing the course and the rest given ‘sham’ treatments.

After 26 weeks, 18.3 per cent in the ‘real’ group met the criteria for ‘recovery’ compared with only 9.8 per cent in the ‘sham’ group.

The therapy could be more widely available in six to nine months. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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