Psychotherapy Shown Promising for Lower Back Pain

Representing one of the most common sources of chronic discomfort among people worldwide, lower back pain is a significant health issue for scores of people, and is also a leading reason for missed workdays and worker’s compensation claims. Many lower back pain problems are addressed by various treatments including pain medications, spinal adjustments, and other measures, but clients taking advantage of such treatments may find that the dependency upon these options can lead to frustration as well as extra expenses. Psychotherapy has been shown to provide promising benefits for a multitude of physical health concerns, and study recently conducted at the University of Warwick in the UK has found that therapy may be more effective for lower back pain than simply administering medical advice to clients.

The study involved a group of over six hundred participants, over half of which were assigned to a course of six sessions of group psychotherapy, while the remaining participants were given a basic fifteen minute consultation regarding other treatment options, including the use of pain relieving medications. Results were collected a year after the opening of the study, and found that nearly sixty percent of those who received psychotherapeutic treatment reported improvement in their back pain symptoms, compared with only thirty one percent of participants who received a consultation alone. Satisfaction with the treatment was also markedly different, with sixty five percent in the therapy group expressive their satisfaction, in contrast with twenty eight percent satisfaction among the other participants.

The study helps to bolster the idea that certain types of therapy can improve quality of life and ease discomfort among people with problematic pain management and related medical issues. Though further research incorporating measures obtained through methods other than self-reporting may make the findings stronger, the study provides a solid foundation for future work.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Clara J.

    Clara J.

    March 6th, 2010 at 2:56 AM

    i always tell my children to sit,stand and walk with the right posture as this habit if followed throught their lives will possibly keep them away from back problems…these kind of problems are affecting more and more people…this may occur due to not maintaing the right posture while going about the daily ativities.

  • Sam T

    Sam T

    March 6th, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    This is great and definitely something I will look into. My doctors all want me to have some back surgery but that just scares the youu know what out of me. But this is something that I am willing to try and which will not leave me any worse for the wear. Have also been thinking about hypnosis too so maybe getting in with a good counselor can help lead me to someone good in that field of work too. Anything is better than being cut and going through surgery and recovery!

  • toby


    March 6th, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    therapy has been used for lower back pain in the past, yes. but to know that even psycho therapy can have an effect on something seemingly remote as back pain is truly amusing, atleast for me. i never thought the two things could have any kind of inter – relation.



    March 7th, 2010 at 12:47 AM

    This goes on to give further proof as to how important the mind is for our well being and that it can alter the condition of even a physical problem , mainly so because it has the power to do so.

  • jonnie


    March 7th, 2010 at 9:47 AM

    Have to email this to a good friend of mine who has suffered for years from lower back pain but has found nothing which can relieve it. I would have never thought of therapy in this way as an option for him but now this looks to be a promising trend that many more should at least give a try.

  • Mathew Ethrington

    Mathew Ethrington

    March 7th, 2010 at 11:41 AM

    There are a lot of ppl out ther who suffer from certain illness or problems and no medication seems to solve their problems…visits to multiple doctors does not seem to help. this method of treating physical problems through psychotherapy is a good new approach and may come to the aid of such people.

  • Tracy


    March 7th, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    I had low back pain on and off for twenty or so years. I’ve gone for psychotherapy and found that while I did make some progress the “real” release came after psoas release work by my chiropractor. As we worked to release the psoas I experienced a HUGE emotional letting go of many of those issues I encountered in therapy that just wouldn’t quite “leave” my consciousness.
    They were trapped in a feisty psoas muscle. I feel so much more freedom these days and I am moving forward with far more ease!



    March 8th, 2010 at 8:14 AM

    This surely comes as a great news to people whose problems have not been solved by regular medication and for those whos just seems to be getting the back pain problem back after the medication course is completed…

  • Francis I.

    Francis I.

    March 8th, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    It is important to find newer and better methods to cure problems of people and lower back pain is something that a lot of people suffer from. This method is definitely going to be very useful and beneficial as it does not involve any meds.

  • Jon


    March 8th, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    Surgeons have probably skipped over this form of treatment for their patients with back pain because they know that psychotherapy has been so effective in treating this that they will lose money because of it.
    Hopefully there will be more medical doctors who will get on board with promoting this to their patients. I think that more and more people will look to this general direction to treat back pain because so many have become wary of undergoing the knife when there is no real guarantee that the surgery will permanently stave off the pain. Now the problem is going to be convincing the big insurance companies that psychotherapy can be helpful in these cases so that they will pay for patients to get this type of care.

  • Roger


    February 22nd, 2011 at 5:09 AM

    I had physio for may year and found it helped a lot with my back pain. unfortunately i had to give in and have surgery and a disc had herniated and there was no other choice.I still see my physio on a regular basic.

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Title   Content   Author is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on