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Talk Therapy May Treat Low Back Pain

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Beneficial, Cost-effective, U.K. Study Finds
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CBT for Low Back Pain continued...

The CBT sessions focused on participants’ thoughts and behaviors about back pain and physical activity. By helping people identify negative beliefs, they can change behaviors.

Information on back pain was collected three months after the patients entered the study, and then again at six and 12 months.

After three months, the impact of the CBT intervention was comparable to that reported for established low back pain treatments like exercise, acupuncture, and manipulation, the researchers report.

After 12 months, almost twice as many patients in the CBT group reported having no back pain (59% vs. 31%). Sixty-five percent reported being satisfied with their treatment, compared to 43% of patients who did not have the group therapy.

‘No One-Size-Fits-All Treatment’

The researchers conclude that group cognitive behavioral therapy should be considered a useful and cost-effective treatment for chronic low back pain.

The study appears online in the Feb. 26 issue of the journal The Lancet.

"There will never be a one-size-fits-all treatment for low-back pain," Hansen says. "Group cognitive behavioral therapy gives patients another choice."

In an editorial accompanying the study, pain management specialist Laxmaiah Manchikanti, MD, expressed skepticism about the ability to offer CBT for pain management in the United States, no matter how effective the intervention is.

Manchikanti directs the Pain Management Center of Paducah in Paducah, Ky.

"A practical issue that remains is the availability of group cognitive behavioral therapy on a routine basis for low-back pain in primary care, which might be feasible in countries with national health-care systems,  but not in a country like the USA," he writes.

Hansen, who developed the CBT training program used in the U.K. study, concedes that patients with chronic back pain in the U.S. who want to try group cognitive therapy may have a hard time finding it.

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