Let’s Talk About It: Research Shows Talk Therapy Helps Chronic Back Pain

Corporate Physiotherapy SessionWe all know occupational physiotherapy is one of the best ways to prevent both short-term and chronic back pain, but new research suggests that simply talking about it could help as well! We look at the research into CCBT (Contextual Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and how it can help prevent and ease the suffering of musculoskeletal disorders.

Talking Therapy

New research conducted by Arthritis Research UK and published in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders shows that a new kind of talking therapy could hold the key to reducing the stress surrounding chronic back pain, which can often make existing conditions worse. Patients questioned during the research stated that they preferred a mix of physiotherapy and spoken therapy in order to cope with both the physical and mental effects of a life lived in chronic pain.

The new therapy is called Contextual Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CCBT, and works in the same way as its more well known predecessor CBT, which is often used in psychology to identify stress triggers and lessen the chance of a mental episode. In terms of chronic back pain, CCBT works by helping patients accept that the pain they suffer may not be able to be cured, rather offering them practical solutions regarding how to cope and enjoy a good quality of life.

The Study

The research study was conducted on 89 patients who had suffered with lower back pain for longer than three months. They were also determined to be ‘fear avoidant’ which meant they shied away from daily activities they thought may encourage more pain and had high levels of emotional and psychological distress. The patients were then placed in randomly selected groups with some receiving CCBT, some just physiotherapy and others a mixture of both. Both patients and physicians noted a preference in dealing with both sides of the coin, helping to cope with the sometimes inevitable pain whilst helping them return to the daily activities they once shied away from with renewed vigour.

The research suggested that CCBT was helpful, however was found to be more so when given with physiotherapy. The blend of both types of therapy is of help to both those who have just been diagnosed with a musculoskeletal disorder, who may be wondering how their quality of life will be affected in the future, and those who have been suffering for an extended period of time, as they can benefit from the continued support of both mental and physical professionals.

Occupational Physiotherapy and CCBT

In the corporate world, it can be hard for employees to pinpoint the stress triggers associated with a busy working life. However, workers may be suffering with a back condition in silence and giving them the option to voice their stress-related concerns may help improve recovery time. It has been proven by many research studies that the presence of a dedicated occupational physiotherapy service maintained by professionals has helped employees deal with any issues as and when the arise, as well as aiding in the recovery of employees who may be dealing with long-term absence as a result of chronic pain.

This new research into CCBT may also help employers understand the importance of offering staff an outlet for both physical and mental strain, giving practical tips on how to enjoy life regardless of the pain, lessening stress and decreasing the chances of taking sick leave, saving a business money and improving the quality of life of the employee.