Education program explaining pain is beneficial for patient outcomes
Patients generally want to learn more about their pain
Pain is necessary for our survival and something that we all experience to a certain degree from time to time. But dealing with pain on a regular or constant basis is not normal and requires appropriate treatment to address it. In addition to treating what's called musculoskeletal pain—a term used to describe any pain that affects the bones, muscles or other connecting structures—education is another tool that may be helpful for improving the outcomes of patients. Studies have shown that people in pain are generally interested in learning more about what is causing their pain, and providing them with this education may reduce their pain and stress levels. There are several different types of educational strategies that focus on various systems of the body, but neuroscience education is believed to be most effective for patients dealing with continual pain. Pain neuroscience education (PNE) aims to explain the many processes at work involving the nervous system that causes pain, with the goal of making patients more aware of how to overcome it. In order to more develop a better understanding of the effectiveness of PNE, a powerful study called a systematic review was conducted. This type of study gathers all the most important literature on the topic and evaluates it in order to establish a conclusion.
13 high-quality studies accepted for review
Investigators searched through 11 major medical databases for studies that assessed the use of PNE for various musculoskeletal conditions. This search led to a total of 13 studies called randomized-controlled trials being accepted for the review. Randomized-controlled trials place participants in separate groups to receive different interventions, are they considered the highest-quality individual studies available. Each of these studies was evaluated in detail and then assessed for quality, which helps to establish how reliable its information is.
PNE reduces patients' pain and improves their attitudes and behaviors
Results from the systematic review showed that PNE did, in fact, lead to several benefits for patients with musculoskeletal pain. In particular, it reduced patients' disability and usage of healthcare and improved their pain ratings, knowledge of pain, as well as their attitudes and beliefs regarding pain. In addition, it was found that when PNE was combined with a physical intervention led by a physical therapist, patients experienced even better outcomes than when following the PNE alone. Finally, all the studies reviewed were rated as having good quality, which shows that their information was reliable. These findings show that PNE is effective for patients dealing with musculoskeletal pain since it can improve their attitudes and beliefs, and actually reduce their disability levels. More research is needed to explore the benefits of PNE further, but this type of education should be viewed as a helpful method for managing these patients.
-As reported in the July '16 issue of Physiotherapy Theory and Practice
August 12, 2018
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