The Unexpected Way To Treat Low Back Pain — Without More Meds

Photographed by Jens Ingvarsson.
If you've got chronic back pain, chances are you've done everything you can think of to ease it. But now, according to a new study, adding a new type of therapy to your routine could provide the relief you're looking for — without more meds. The study, published online this week in JAMA, investigated one type of back pain treatment in particular: mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), which involves mindfulness training as well as yoga practice. To do so, the researchers separated 342 participants with chronic low back pain into three groups, with each getting a different version of treatment. The first group stuck with what they were already doing to relieve their pain, and the other two got their regular treatment plus either MBSR or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). We already know that CBT is helpful for back pain because it teaches patients to reinterpret pain-related thoughts and anxieties that may exacerbate the condition. But results here showed that participants who were in the MBSR treatment did equally as well as those in the CBT condition. And, after 26 weeks of treatment, both groups reported less pain and fewer movement limitations compared to the control group. The therapy groups were also less likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety at 26 weeks than control participants. Another recent study found that participants' back pain improved with a type of biofeedback treatment that essentially corrected their posture and movements. So if you're looking for a new way to treat your lower back pain — without meds — you'll be pleased to know that you've got options.

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