Mind-based therapy programs outperform usual care in easing chronic lower back pain

Mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy yields better results compared to other treatment options for chronic back pain, according to a research conducted in Seattle. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can prove beneficial for people who have not been benefitted from other therapies to treat severe lower back pain.

Study’s lead researcher Daniel Cherkin, of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, said that these program may make noticeable and long-lasting improvements in lower back pain than those who continued to follow usual care routines.

In the case of MBSR, aim is to increase a person’s attention to thoughts, emotions and sensations while doing activities like yoga and meditation. On the other hand, CBT educates a person about pain and its relation to reactions and activities. In CBT, instructions and tools are provided to cope with pain.

The researchers mentioned that CBT is known to be an effective treatment mode for chronic pain and is recommended for lower back pain. But it is the second study that has looked the effect of MBSR for chronic low back pain.

In the study, the researchers have included 342 adults with chronic low back pain. The study group was divided into three sub-groups. One of them was asked to follow whatever treatment they were already following to manage their pain, second group was asked to undergo MBSR and the other one engaged in CBT.

In total, around 54% attended six or more sessions. After six months, there was ‘meaningful improvement’ in around 61% of the MBSR group, 58% of the CBT group and 44% of the usual care group.

Around 44% of MBSR group and 45% group were having noticeable decline in the pain than 27% of the usual care group. After a year, mind-based therapy programs continued to perform better than usual care on both the fronts.

“That’s a good chunk of the population with chronic low back pain that could have a meaningful improvement”, affirmed Dr. Madhav Goyal, he has co-written an editorial accompanying in the new study.

While study team has urged that people should consult a specialist before starting the program, there isn’t any harm in trying mind-based therapy programs to lessen chronic lower back pain. If the treatment option works for an individual, it can reduce dependence on pain killers. Chronic back pain in old age results in disability and reduced mobility. This could result in obesity due to reduced level of physical activity.

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