Mental therapy could help chronic back pain suffers
Jan 21, 2006 - 3:21:37 PM

Mental therapy could be as effective as physical exercise in reducing back pain, signalling relief for thousands of chronic back pain sufferers.

Researcher Rob Smeets, from the University of Maastricht, Netherlands, and colleagues studied 223 people suffering from chronic back pain and found that training the mind was just as effective as using more physical methods, the online edition of Daily Mail reported.

However, combining the treatments does not improve patients' condition further than following the individual treatments, they said.

Over 10 weeks, one group of the study participants received mental therapy, another underwent physical treatment and the third used a combination of the two.

The physical treatment attempted to restore back muscle strength with aerobic training on a bicycle and strengthening exercises, it said.

The mental therapy tried to help patients overcome their reluctance to be more active, teaching them how to face obstacles for recovery by using problem-solving skills.

The researchers assessed how mobile the patients were before and after treatment.

They discovered that both physical treatment and mental therapy significantly reduced pain experienced by the participants compared to those who received no treatment at all.

The study published in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, however, said it did not find improvement of the back pain conditions further in the patients who had a combination of two.

The researchers said their study showed the short-term results of the treatments, but further tests would be conducted in a year's time.

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