“Chronic lower back pain can make routine tasks very difficult” — Paul Ebeling
A new study suggests patients can learn new, practical, and less painful ways to move through individualized MST (motor skills training).
A 2-yr study of nearly 150 patients found that MST appears to better relieve disability from lower back pain than a more common but less-tailored exercise regimen broadly focused on improving strength and flexibility.
“Our findings suggest that motor skill training in functional activities is an effective and efficient treatment that results in important short-term and long-term improvement in function in people with chronic low back pain,” said study lead author Linda Van Dillen. a professor of physical therapy at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine.
Lower back pain is incredibly common, and the #1 cause of disability. It is the most frequent cause of chronic pain among American adults.
Professor Van Dillen notes that at least 60% to 80% of adults will experience lower back pain, and “almost half of them will have had a major episode by age 30.”
Yet there is no accepted standard of care for chronic lower back pain patients, nor a clear sense of what type of exercise intervention might work best, researchers said.
To get a better handle on the issue, Professor Van Dillen’s team focused on a pool of patients diagnosed with what is known as “non-specific” lower back pain. That means they have tension, stiffness, and/or soreness in the lower back area for which there is no clear cause.
Before the study began in December 2013, all participants had struggled with lower back pain for at least a yr.
Participants, who ranged in age from 18 to 60, were randomly divided into 2 groups. One group received strength and flexibility treatment for the trunk and lower limbs a common exercise intervention.
The other group took part in MST, which teaches patients new ways to carry out everyday tasks rendered difficult by back pain.
MST aims to Zero in on each patient’s personal posture and movements throughout an entire day, and then to tailor pain-free movement strategies to their specific routines.
Both groups received 6 wks of training for one 1 hr per week. And 50% of each group also received 3 “booster” treatment sessions 6 months later. Disability questionnaires were completed at the outset, and at 6 months and 1 yr out.
While both groups’ ability to perform daily functions without pain improved, the MST group achieved significantly better gains, that meaning lower disability scores over the study period.
MST patients were more satisfied with their care and less likely to use drugs for back pain. They were also less fearful of addressing work-related needs, and less likely to avoid normal daily activities, the study found.
MST patients 6 months out had fewer acute back pain flare-ups and were more likely to keep up with their exercises. And after a yr, when their back pain flared up, it was less severe, researchers said.
The findings were published on 28 December online in JAMA Neurology.
Have a healthy Happy New Year, Keep the Faith!