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Part IV: Creating Hope for Tomorrow
Oh, My Aching Back: Low Back Pain – Part IV
by Professor Visser, Churack Chair of Pain Management

‘Clinical psychology: Dealing with stress and worry with back pain is helped by clinical psychologists. Techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction are very effective components of a pain management programme.

Is it all in my head?

When we bring up issues such as ‘stress and back pain’, it doesn’t mean your pain isn’t ‘real’, ‘it’s all in your head’, or you’re ‘malingering’—it simply highlights what science has discovered in the past 10 years; stress can increase the pain signal in people with back problems.

Pain management programmes: These are courses (lasting from 2 days to a few weeks) run by a health care team (physiotherapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, doctors and nurses) which provide physical and behavioural therapies, as well as education and lifestyle tips to help manage many pain conditions, especially back pain.

There’s very good scientific evidence that pain management programmes improve function and quality of life in people with low back pain. Sometimes the pain improves, but not always. People often say, “my back pain hasn’t improved all that much, but I’m functioning and coping with it much better” (such as using less medications, or returning to part-time work or sports).

Get active and you take control: We encourage people with back pain to concentrate on active pain management, where you do things to help yourself (eg. relaxation, walking, stretches, gym, swimming, work or sports), rather than focusing on passive strategies (eg. rest, massage, trigger point release, ultrasound, heat treatments, cupping, acupuncture, injections, hypnosis) where something is done to you.

Conclusion

Managing low back pain is much the same as managing any chronic health condition, such as diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure. Although low back pain may not be ‘cured’, it can be managed effectively to keep you active, independent and living a good quality of life.

 

Disclaimer: General information only–not intended as specific clinical advice or treatment. The author cannot take responsibility for any outcomes related to this information. Always see your health care professional if you have concerns about your back pain.

 

If you have any questions about this series of research findings please contact ewithers@scrosswa.org.au
or visit http://www.nd.edu.au/fremantle/schools/medicine/churack-chair