Researchers from Goethe University Frankfurt have analysed data from 10,000 patients to prove that tailored back pain treatment is superior to standard treatment.
According to the researchers, if chronic back pain treatment is tailored to the individual needs of the patients, outcomes are far greater than standard forms of treatment. The researchers also found that if back pain treatment was accompanied by a psychotherapeutic procedure such as cognitive behavioural therapy, pain can be alleviated more effectively.
The Goethe Frankfurt University research team combined and analysed data from over 10,000 patients before they concluded that multimodal therapies should be promoted on a larger scale in healthcare systems. They have also pointed out that a multimodal approach to treatment is more in line with the German National Disease Management Guidelines.
Comparing forms of back pain treatment
Back pain is a condition with many causes such as lack of exercise, bad posture, overexertion, and stress at work. Rates of chronic back pain are high; common therapies include physiotherapy as well as strength and stability exercises. The researchers wanted to explore how these therapies could be as successful as possible.
The findings of the study have been published in the Journal of Pain.
The researchers analysed results from 58 randomised controlled trials of sufferers of chronic back pain. The researchers examined whether each treatment was individualised and to what extent. They then compared this information to the efficacy of each treatment. The success rate of pain relief was 38% higher in individualised back pain treatment than with standardised treatment.
“The higher effort required for individual treatment is worthwhile because patients benefit to an extent that is clinically important,” said lead author Dr Johannes Fleckenstein from the Institute of Sport Sciences at Goethe University Frankfurt.
How CBT can help treatment
The team decided to take their research even further and compare the third group of back pain treatment methods. This group was concerned individualised treatment that was combined with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of talk therapy that is based on the idea that negative thoughts and behaviours surrounding pain can make it worse. Through CBT, patients are taught to change the way they think about pain.
Analysis of the data revealed that combining personalised treatment with CBT led to a success rate that was 84% higher than standard back pain treatment.
Dr Fleckenstein has described the study as a study “an urgent appeal to public health policy” to promote the use of individualised and multimodal treatments.
“Compared to other countries, such as the USA, we are in a relatively good position in Germany. For example, we issue less prescriptions for strong narcotic drugs such as opiates. But the number of unnecessary X-rays, which, by the way, can also contribute to pain chronicity, and inaccurate surgical indications are still very high,” said Dr Fleckenstein.