Alexander technique lessons in combination with an exercise program offer long-term effective treatment for chronic back pain, according to a study published on the British Medical Journal website.
Back pain causes more disability than almost any other condition in Western societies, but very few effective long-term treatments are available to patients.
Previous research shows that the Alexander technique and massage may help relieve back pain in the short-term, but little is known about the long-term outcomes.
A team of researchers from the University of Southampton and the University of Bristol compared the effectiveness of massage, exercise and the Alexander technique for the relief of back pain over one year.
Professor Little and colleagues recruited 579 patients with chronic or recurrent back pain from 64 general practices in the south and west of England.
Patients were randomized to receive normal care, massage, six Alexander technique lessons, or 24 Alexander technique lessons. Half of the patients from each of the groups were also prescribed an exercise programme (brisk walking for 30 minutes per day five times a week).
Patients were sent disability questionnaires at three months and one year to record which activities were limited by their back pain. For example, walking more slowly than usual or getting out of the house often.
The authors found that after one year, exercise combined with lessons in the Alexander technique significantly reduced pain and improved functioning whereas massage offered little benefit after three months.
Read more at ScienceDaily