Matthew J. Bair, M.D., M.S., a research scientist with the Regenstrief Institute and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will co-lead a $21 million national study to find the best approach to manage chronic low back pain. The Department of Veterans Affairs is funding the 20-site trial.
Dr. Bair is leading the study along with David Clark, M.D., PhD, a pain management physician at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University.
Low back pain is the most disabling chronic condition in the world. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lives. About 20 percent of people affected by acute low back pain develop chronic low back pain, which is defined as pain that lasts 12 weeks or more. Treating the condition is very challenging.
Aquatic exercise, a common physical therapist intervention for patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP), shouldn’t be viewed as “less strenuous or less effective” than land-based exercise, according to authors of a recent study in PTJ (Physical Therapy). In fact, they write, water-based exercise can be beneficial for people whose movement is limited by pain.
Researchers recruited 40 men aged 18 to 45 with a healthy body mass index. Half of participants had experienced CLBP for greater than 12 weeks; the control group experienced no back pain. Both groups performed 15 aquatic exercises and 15 land-based exercises with movement patterns similar to the aquatic exercises. Fourteen of the exercises included upper extremity dynamic movements, and 16 focused on the lower extremities.
New research from Royal Holloway, University of London has found that a new form of talking therapy is a credible and promising treatment for people with chronic low back pain who are also suffering from related psychological stress.
Professor Tamar Pincus from the Department of Psychology also found that patients preferred a combination of talking therapy and physiotherapy to address both the psychological and physical aspects of their back pain.
Low back pain is one of the most common and costly health problems in the UK and research is starting to reveal the important role that psychological factors play in managing it.