Summary: Researchers say that the traditional approach to treating low back pain must be changed. The conventional approach focuses too much on fixing something in the back. However, it neglects brain and spine communication. In the new study, researchers demonstrated that pain could be reduced by altering the thinking pattern of those living with CLBP.
Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is the leading cause of chronic pain and disability globally. Despite much progress in medicine, it remains a significant problem.
The traditional approach to managing CLBP is using anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers like opioids, and even using invasive methods to repair degenerated disks. Doctors may also use various manipulations.
Nonetheless, it appears that some patients do not respond well to various treatments. Even surgical correction fails to provide relief in many cases, which is why there is controversy around using such methods.
Therefore, in recent years, researchers have started looking at CLBP a bit differently. They think, like any other chronic pain, low back pain is more complex. The pain occurs not merely due to some changes in the spinal cord. For example, fMRI studies confirm that the brains of those living with CLBP act differently. It means that we cannot ignore the role of the brain in such chronic pains.
It means that CLBP is a complex problem occurring due to both changes in the spine and the brain. Moreover, the modern approach to the problem only makes things worse.
It is no secret that those living with CLBP also live with different fears. They are hesitant to move their spine fully, fearing it will worsen their pain. Many such fears are fueled by medical recommendations.
In CLBP, patients are often recommended to be careful about their spine. They are told to learn new ways of moving the spine, reducing stress on the spine. However, now researchers think that these recommendations might be making things worse. In addition, such recommendations might make problems chronic.
It appears that in all the treatment approaches, one thing is missing. These treatment approaches do not realize that the brain plays a vital role in pain sensation. This is especially true for chronic conditions like CLBP.
The new study published in the Journal JAMA confirms that focusing on the brain may help manage CLBP effectively.
The new study was done on 276 patients randomly divided into two groups. One group, the intervention group, received graded sensorimotor retraining intervention (RESOLVE), which mainly included educating patients about low back pain, how to live with it, and assisting them with physical activities. Another group, the control group, received sham treatment using methods like diathermy or laser treatment.
At the end of the study, researchers found that though both groups reported benefits at the end of the 18-week trial, but the benefit was more significant in the intervention group. This study demonstrated the importance of patient education and brain reprogramming in those living with the condition.
Every researchers say that these findings are remarkable in many ways. In the intervention, researchers did not try to fix anything in the spine. Instead, the focus was on reprogramming the brain. As a result, it appears that the brains of those living with CLBP become more sensitive to pain.
As researchers say that more extensive studies are needed to improve this treatment approach, so it can be used for managing low back pain. In addition, they say that if we want to help those living with CLBP, we need to alter how the brain and spine communicate.
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