Background Low back pain is a common problem that can affect up to 80% of adults during their lives. The symptoms of these chronic pain patients include affective, cognitive and behavioural components. Many interventions have been found to be beneficial in the rehabilitation of chronic low back pain patients, one of them is biofeedback.
Objectives Assess the efficacy of a biofeedback program for chronic low back pain patients and its impact in their pain, disabilities, and depression and anxiety symptoms; and promove higher abdominal muscles contraction levels without increasing paraspinal muscles contraction levels.
Methods Sixty patients with chronic low back pain were randomly assigned into a control and a treatment group and were oriented to take analgesics when necessary. The treatment group participated in a biofeedback program (8 weeks) that included: global relaxation trainning and abdominal strength exercises with and without biofeedback and cognitive reestructuring techniques. The outcome measures used were Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), Roland-Morris questionnaire, Schöber Index, Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and State-trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) in the beginning and at the end of the observation period. Contraction (EMG) levels of abdominals and paraspinal muscles were registered in the beginning, after 1 month and at the end of the observation period.
Results At the end of the observation period treatment group patients improved significantly on VAS (p = 0,012) and STAI (p = 0,003). Roland-Morris questionnaire improved in both groups without differences between them (treatment p = 0,0001 and control p = 0,006). The control group improved significantly on BDI (p = 0,013). There were no differences in the contraction levels of abdominals and paraspinals muscles, and neither in the Shöber Index.
Conclusion Our biofeedback program reduced pain and anxiety symptoms of chronic low back pain patients. The disabilities improved in both groups. The program didn’t change depression symptoms and the paraspinal contraction levels while contracting abdominal muscles
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