Study Spotlight: The Power of Patient Education in Treating Chronic Low Back Pain

Should symptoms-based physical treatment remain the go-to approach for treating chronic LBP?

Over the last decade, cognitive interventions have become the subject of dialogue and research regarding the treatment of chronic low back pain (LBP). Studies have shown that cognitive interventions, such as those that address perceptions of pain, demonstrate similar rates of effectiveness in self-reported disability and sick leave when compared to traditional treatments. These findings were tested further in the first study to compare a cognitive education method based on a non-injury model with that of more traditional symptom-based physical training for chronic LBP.

In BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, Sorensen et al shared the framework for this study, which compared (1) an educational approach designed to improve confidence in the robustness of the spine and (2) symptom-based physical training treatment. Primary outcomes were back pain and activity limitation, and secondary outcomes were attitudes regarding LBP, physical activity levels, work ability, quality of life, sick leave, as well as various other healthcare treatments.

The study found that, despite having fewer treatment sessions, cognitive, education intervention for chronic LBP resulted in at least equivalent outcomes as a symptom-based physical training method. These findings support MedRisk’s commitment to providing consultations to injured workers in advance of treatment to educate patients on the importance of physical therapy, describe what to expect, and address any perceived barriers to recovery.

Sorensen, P.H., Bendix, T., Manniche, C. et al. An educational approach based on a non-injury model compared with individual symptom-based physical training in chronic LBP. A pragmatic, randomised trial with a one-year follow-up. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 11, 212 (2010).

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