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PRT—Surprising Psychological Cure for Back Pain?

written by / October 20, 2021
PRT—Surprising Psychological Cure for Back Pain?

About 27 million adult Americans are affected by back pain every year. Furthermore, a great number of these cases have unknown etiology (primary back pain). This gave researchers the idea to try out a new psychological therapy method to treat it, called Pain Reprocessing Therapy or PRT.

The results from a clinical trial published in JAMA Psychiatry show they were right to do so. Namely, 66% of the participants exposed to PRT experienced complete or substantial pain reduction after a 4-week treatment. These are undoubtedly excellent results in comparison with the 20% rate achieved in the placebo group.

What is also remarkable is that patients largely sustained these positive results by the time of the 1-year follow-up.

So, what’s PRT about?

PRT is a psychological treatment that aims to change the way pain is processed so that one can ‘unlearn’ to experience specific body signals as pain. By processing these signals as non-dangerous, a person eventually manages to debilitate or fully eliminate the pain. Also, PRT was used against other misconceptions about the causes of back pain.

The cognitive, somatic, and exposure-based techniques participants were put through also aimed to minimize the conception of threat that this type of pain poses. 

For the time being, the question remains whether this method will make for durable pain relief. However, it’s encouraging that the clinical and MRI data drawn from this study seem to suggest a positive answer.  

In reality, back pain is one of the leading causes of disability globally. Overall speaking, it deteriorates one’s life quality, interfering with physical activity, and causing lack of sleep and loss of productivity. 

Additionally, stats indicate that around 20% of those experiencing acute lower back pain will end up with chronic one. 

By now, many OTC treatments have been used for acute back pain, but none were psychological. Usually, physicians suggested lifestyle changes like using a mattress adapted for back pain, weight loss, exercising, and stress reduction.

Nevertheless, with results as promising as these, perhaps the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) will present this revolutionary approach to treating back pain on next year’s World Spine Day

Marija Kovachevska is a content writer at, Biochemist and Activist. After obtaining her BSc in Biochemistry and Physiology she changed her microscope for content research tools and continued researching in the fields of Medicine, Biology, and Communication. Her insatiable curiosity flare drove her to become a “content scientist writer” as she likes to say. Reality fascinates her and facts and statistics are a must-have feature in her articles. Fluent in English and French, she is a volunteer and communication associate for several non-profit organizations. French culture and handcrafting are her passion, but in her free time, she indulges in long walks and traveling, or as she likes to say “experiencing the inexperienced.”

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