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Chronic Back Pain Soothed by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Date:2/25/2010

Setting your mind straight can help you deal with physical pain, researchers say

THURSDAY, Feb. 25 (HealthDay News) -- People suffering from chronic lower back pain may find relief through cognitive behavioral therapy, a short-term treatment aimed at challenging and reframing negative beliefs.

Chronic lower back pain is one of the three most disabling conditions in the developed world, the British researchers report. And, it can be expensive to treat.

"Back pain is a physical health problem, not a psychological problem," said study co-author Zara Hansen, a physiotherapist and cognitive behavioral therapist at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. "The intervention uses a psychological model to understand how we can manage back pain better, but it is not psychotherapy,"

In the study, cognitive behavioral therapy helped people change their thinking about their back pain and how they managed it, Hansen said.

"This is a relatively new approach to helping people manage long-term health conditions. People with persistent back pain are at risk of developing anxiety and depression, but this intervention did not aim to treat anxiety and depression," she said.

For the study, published in the Feb. 26 online edition of The Lancet, Hansen's team randomly assigned 701 patients with low back pain to therapy in addition to standard treatment or to standard treatment alone. The standard treatment included guidance on staying active and the best use of pain medication. The others got up to six sessions of group therapy. All participants had their back pain measured at the start of the study and one year later.

At one year, those who had CBT showed a 2.4 point improvement on one disability test and a 13.8 percent improvement on the other. Those who had no therapy saw a 1.1 point improvement on the one score and a 5.4 percent improvement on the other, the researchers found.


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