A sort of 12-week course that focuses on the nervous system rather than pain relievers and manipulations is a new treatment for back pain. The number of people who do not suffer from any type of disorder is double compared to traditional methods, which suggests that the method could be a valid supplement or even an alternative to current therapies.
Back pain, a sore to fight
We all know that back pain is a common problem, but did you also know that pain in that region of the body is the leading cause of disability worldwide for over three decades? I also suffer from it a lot, and if this new approach works I don't rule out doing big celebratory somersaults.
The results of this study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (here is the link) show that the system, called sensorimotor retraining, it literally changes our mind. To be precise, it changes the way people think about their body in pain and process the sensations from their back. Result? Change the way we move our backs in daily life.
The recorded benefits seem evident: people who have practiced this method show much fewer back pain problems even one year after the end of the course.
How does sensorimotor retraining work?
The main difference is that sensorimotor retraining sees back pain as a nervous system problem that can be "hacked", not a physical problem.
The treatment is based on research showing that the nervous system of people suffering from chronic back pain actually behaves differently than people who have had a simple back injury.
In short, those who suffer from chronic back pain develop a different way of communicating between the brain and the body: a sort of vicious circle, which generates a hypersensitivity to pain and changes behavior, making the problem chronic.
Train the brain to heal the body
According to the researchers, people can learn to train their brain and body to deal with the problem, realizing that their back and brain are not communicating effectively.
For the study, 276 people were divided into two groups: one received therapy for 12 weeks, another received "placebo" therapies from qualified physiotherapists, psychologists and other experts.
The results? Really comforting: Apparently, the back pain signals are still moving from the body to the brain, but the individual feels less pain, or none at all.
"One of the central principles of awareness is the principle that you are not your experiences," says the senior author of the paper Fadel Zeidan, associate professor of anesthesiology at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
Rather Zen, for being a remedy of "Western" and advanced medicine: it is certainly an exciting new line of investigation on a centuries-old problem.
I'll think about it.