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The back pain app out-performing physiotherapy


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Back pain sufferers using a therapy app have reported less pain than those using traditional physiotherapy, according to a study.

A randomised controlled study by digital therapeutics company Kaia Health showed that patients using the mHealth back pain app reported significantly less pain than a control group who were treated with physiotherapy and online education.

The study involved two groups of patients with low back pain. The first group used the app, while a control group underwent a standard therapy programme consisting of weekly physiotherapy sessions and sophisticated online education about back pain. Both groups were encouraged to live an active lifestyle and perform the therapeutic exercises at home.

The app provided three therapy modules - back pain education, physiotherapy, and mindfulness and relaxation techniques - and recommended an exercise plan that could be personalised. App users also could interact with a human coach via the app if they had questions.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Kaia Health

Both groups experienced significant pain reduction over the course of 12 weeks. However, after three months patients using the app reported a substantially larger decrease in their back pain intensity than the control group.

Dr. Thomas R. Tölle, Head of Pain Medicine at the Technical University Munich, says: "This study can help add to the growing body of evidence that generally supports the use of multimodal treatments for chronic conditions.

"Within this study, we saw a notable benefit for people managing low back pain when delivering multimodal treatment through the digital modality of the smartphone."

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that back, neck and muscle problems caused 31 million lost working days in 2013, costing the UK £14 billion annually. Back pain affects an estimated one third of adults in the UK each year.

"As a company, we want to support the improvement of the current standard of care for people living with back pain," says Konstantin Mehl, Founder and CEO of Kaia Health. "And whilst these study results are promising, we will be initiating a similar US-based study looking at the use of the Kaia app for self-management of back pain."

Download the mHealth app on Google Play here and on iTunes here.

Lead image Credit: Kaia Health

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