Combining Exercise, Psychology, Behavioral Counseling to Manage Chronic Pain

An article appearing last week in The Wall Street Journal details the elements of, and patient experiences with, a novel alternative therapy for chronic low back pain. Termed functional restoration, the approach engages psychological and behavioral counseling to teach patients coping skills that can forestall pain catastrophizing and attendant fear of movement. These, in combination with a structured exercise and stretching routine, can help patients with refractory CLBP to better manage their condition and attain better quality of life.

One such program is offered at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, in the form of a 3-week “boot camp” engaging up to 8 patients at a time under the constant supervision of staff including a doctor, occupational and physical therapists, and a nurse practitioner. In addition to strengthening and cardio exercises, there are relaxation exercises to help patients for future pain flare-ups. One patient commented that the group model at first reminded her of “The Biggest Loser” TV series. Soon she came to see the program as “a safe place to find out what I was capable of.”

To access the library of information about low back pain, click here.

A news story about the program and patient experiences may be read here.

Information from Dartmouth-Hitchcock about the center’s functional restoration program may be read here.

Results of another evaluation of functional restoration were presented earlier this year in a poster session at the 2015 American Academy of Pain Medicine annual meeting. See more here.


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