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Cutting Edge Treatment for Back Pain!

In an article published by Aspetar Sports Medicine Journal, Peter O’Sullivan discusses the challenges of treating persistent back pain and how a targeted cognitive functional approach has superior outcomes to the biomedical model.  He presents evidence that a pathoanatomical diagnosis cannot be made for 85-90% of low back pain and that in pain free populations, there is a high prevalence of disc changes (individuals who have never had pain in their back can display disc herniations, bulging, etc. in their MRI’s).  The author recognizes that there are other factors that can contribute to persistent back pain besides anatomical:

  • Neurophysiological Factors
  • Cognitive Factors
  • Emotional Factors
  • Social Factors

So what is this “targeted cognitive functional approach” to treatment?

1. It focuses on addressing patient’s negative beliefs and fears regarding pain (for example, “The doctor told me that I will need surgery in order to get rid of this pain” or “I’m scared to bend forward as I don’t want to injure my disc more”).

2. It breaks down painful movement patterns and retrains the body to tolerate those movements in a mindful and relaxed manner (practicing bending forward in your back but doing it in a safe, slow, and small range of motion to start).

3. It allows for graded exposure to new movements and activities (baby steps) and targeted strengthening and conditioning to meet the patient’s functional goals.

Click on the link below for the full article!

At Omaha Physical Therapy Institute, we have been integrating the targeted cognitive functional approach into our treatment plans with patients.  This approach truly allows each person to be treated as an individual.  There has been great benefit not only in the short term but also in the long term as well!

If you have been experiencing persistent back pain and have tried lots of different treatment options with no relief, try giving Omaha Physical Therapy Institute a call!  We can help!

Marc Hunley, PT, DPT



Peter O’Sullivan. A Targeted Cognitive Functional Approach for the Management of Back Pain, Aspetar Sports Medicine Journal. Volume 4, Issue 1, March 2015.


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