“Neck or back pain? Move without worries!”

“Neck or back pain? Move without worries!”

Major study published in leading journal JAMA Neurology

Thursday, April 19, 2018 — In order to reduce pain symptoms, back and neck patients should learn to move freely and not be afraid of the pain. That is the conclusion of a large scale study of Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Ghent University. Researcher Anneleen Malfliet of Vrije Universiteit Brussel: “We should considerably review our approach to neck and back pain treatment.”

The extensive study was published in this week’s edition of the leading scientific journal JAMA Neurology. The research shows that a rehab program that teaches patients not to be afraid of pain and that introduces exercises that do not avoid pain, is more effective than traditional treatment methods. In the new treatment the knowledge and functionality of the patient should be primordial.

The traditional care options are a combination of treatment of pain symptoms and general rehab exercises. In this new innovative biomedical approach the physician or therapist treats the specific dysfunctions in muscles and joints. Anneleen Malfliet: “We must diverge from the method where we search for an explanation in the muscles and joints of the patient with neck or back pain.”

The pain education for the patient, around which the new research is centered, exists of a very detailed explanation of what happens in our nerve system during chronic pain. The accompanying exercises that the VUB and Ghent University study prescribe, consist of challenging movements and activities that the patient experiences as painful and would usually avoid.

This, the new study shows, is the best way to reduce the overall pain and to improve the mental and physical functionality. Opting for the safe approach is out the window.

The main motto of this treatment approach is that patients should be able to do what they were able to before the pain symptoms. Anneleen Malfliet: “Neck or back pain? Move without worries!”

The study was performed by Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Research group Kinesitherapy, Human Physiology and Anatomy (KIMA), Prof. Dr. Jo Nijs, and Anneleen Malfliet; Ghent University, Research group Revalidation sciences and kinesitherapy, Prof. Dr. Lieven Danneels, Prof. Dr. Barbara Cagnie, Prof. Dr. Mira Meeus, and Dr. Jeroen Kregel.

More information

Anneleen Malfliet, anneleen.malfliet@vub.be, 02-477 45 62

Sicco Wittermans press officer at Vrije Universiteit Brussel