Chronic low back pain is a pervasive issue affecting a substantial portion of the population, with societal costs and disability reaching alarming levels. Amidst the challenges posed by traditional interventions, a groundbreaking study conducted across 20 physiotherapy clinics in Australia reveals the transformative potential of Cognitive Function Therapy (CFT) when combined with movement sensor biofeedback.
The Complexity of Chronic Low Back Pain
An estimated 619 million people live with lower back pain, and it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide. According to a new analysis of national survey data published in the journal Pain, 8.2 percent of American adults have chronic severe back pain, and about three-quarters (74.8 percent) of those with chronic severe back pain have difficulties with mobility, social participation, self-care, or work participation
Traditional interventions often fall short of tackling the multifaceted factors contributing to this condition. For example, traditional psychological and exercise therapies are short-term and mild, and resource and cost-intensive biopsychosocial rehabilitation programs show only moderate effects that are generally short-lived.
CFT emerges as a beacon of hope, focusing on self-management by addressing behaviors, emotions, and cognitions related to pain and disability. CFT stands out in its holistic approach, offering a promising alternative to conventional treatments.
What is Cognitive Function Therapy?
Cognitive functional therapy is a patient-centered treatment that focuses on individuals learning to self-manage their symptoms. Treatments target individual pain symptoms, emotions, and behaviors. The physiotherapy sessions are longer than traditional treatments, lasting about 60 minutes, with follow-up sessions of 30 to 45 minutes. The patient will complete up to eight sessions over three months. The objective of this treatment is to help patients relearn how to move their backs without reverting to sometimes damaging over-corrective movements due to chronic pain. The therapy also addresses factors such as sleep, relaxation, work restrictions, and appropriate physical activity levels.
The Long-Term Impact of CFT
The breakthrough controlled trial conducted across 20 physiotherapy clinics meticulously examined the economic and therapeutic effectiveness of CFT, both with and without movement sensor biofeedback, compared to standard care.
The treatment options in the standard care group included chiropractic care, massage, physiotherapy, injections, surgery, and medicines. The CFT groups participated in 7 sessions across 12 weeks and a booster session after 26 weeks to optimize self-administered care.
The outcomes clearly demonstrated the superior effectiveness of CFT and CFT plus biofeedback, particularly in alleviating pain-related limitations after 13 weeks. Notably, the cost-effectiveness of CFT treatments stood out, with sustained positive results observed up to the 52-week mark.
The study showcased substantial and long-lasting improvements in chronic low back pain patients treated with CFT, showing significant improvement in patient quality of life and societal participation. The addition of movement sensor biofeedback — monitoring of physiological functions through electronic monitors — did not yield discernible benefits, raising questions about the necessity of this additional component.
The economic implications and societal-level cost savings associated with Cognitive Function Therapy signal a potential paradigm shift in the management of chronic low back pain. It’s a game-changer in the realm of pain management. While the addition of movement sensor biofeedback may not be necessary for optimal outcomes, the overall implications suggest a promising shift toward a more effective and economically viable approach. As we navigate the complex landscape of chronic low back pain, the evidence supporting CFT paves the way for a brighter and less burdensome future for those affected by this prevalent condition.