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Pain Management Skills Class Aids Those With Chronic Low Back Pain

Findings show noninferior outcomes at three months versus cognitive behavioral therapy

woman holding her back in pain

MONDAY, Aug. 30, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- A single-session pain management class results in clinically significant improvements in pain catastrophizing, pain intensity, and pain interference among individuals with chronic low back pain (CLBP), according to a study published online Aug. 16 in JAMA Network Open.

Beth D. Darnall, Ph.D., from the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California, and colleagues compared the effect of a single class in evidence-based pain management skills (empowered relief) to eight-sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Individuals with self-reported CLBP for at least six months and an average pain intensity of at least 4 were randomly assigned to empowered relief (87 patients), CBT (88 patients), or health education (88 patients).

The researchers found that empowered relief was noninferior to CBT for pain catastrophizing scores at three months. Compared to health education, both empowered relief and CBT were superior for pain catastrophizing scores (empowered relief difference from health education, P < 0.001; CBT difference from health education, P < 0.001). At three months after treatment, pain catastrophizing score reductions for empowered relief and CBT were clinically meaningful (empowered relief, P < 0.001; CBT, P < 0.001; health education, P = 0.001). Compared to CBT, empowered relief was noninferior for pain intensity and pain interference (priority secondary outcomes), sleep disturbance, pain bothersomeness, pain behavior, depression, and anxiety, but empowered relief was inferior for physical function.

"This research could expand treatment options and make nonsurgical and nonpharmaceutical pain management accessible to more patients," Helene Langevin, M.D., director of the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health in Bethesda, Maryland, said in a statement.

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