Chronic Back Pain Responds Well to Psychological Treatment

What treatment for chronic low back pain (LBP) can deliver reduced pain, less disability, improved quality of life, and a better mood? A large review of many studies showed that psychologic intervention is the answer.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, relaxation therapy, and hypnosis appear to be very effective. If this is true, then why aren't patients seeking psychologic treatment? And why aren't insurers paying for them?

Researchers can only guess at the answers right now. They suggest that patients don't want a psychologic cure. They want a quick and easy cure. They want a physical reason for their symptoms.

Many patients don't know that psychologic care can make such a difference. That's because many spine specialists, primary care doctors, and third-party payers don't know the benefits or don't advise patients to try this avenue of care.

The most popular treatment options remain the more expensive surgeries, drug use, nerve blocks, and spinal cord implants. With all the evidence pointing to the benefits of psychological care, health care providers must learn more about this treatment option.

The authors suggest that psychological treatment won't cure patients. But it can make a big difference in pain, disability, and quality of life. It should be considered an important part of the overall care of chronic LBP patients. And insurance companies must be educated about the benefits so that the services are available to all patients.

Why Are Effective Psychological Therapies Underused? In The BACK Letter. March 2007. Vol. 22. No. 3. Pp. 28-29.

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