Recent studies have begun to show that back pain apps can enhance the body’s recovery when combined with conservative treatments and physical activity/exercise. Low back pain – LBP can interfere with everyday activities, work, school, and sleep making life miserable. All around the world low back pain is one of the leading causes of disability. Studies have shown how physical activity/exercise, mindfulness, and spinal manipulation can reduce symptoms more effectively. Exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety and increase positive outlook/mood. However, the biggest problem for individuals is finding activities/exercises that they can enjoy and sticking with them. Individuals that use back pain apps have reported the benefits of being guided through the exercises and meditation that help decrease their pain.
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Back Pain Apps
Several back pain apps utilize the brain and body connection. They provide exercises for the body and meditation to help the mind relax and work out and through the pain. The brain is the computer, the software is the mind and the hardware is the body. The brain is linked to the nervous system. Apps that help with psychosocial and behavioral issues have shown the ability to reverse the negative thinking of individuals with chronic pain. For individuals that don’t like exercising, there are apps to help address various barriers and obstacles.
- They’re ready when and where you are
- They track progress
- They match guidance messages based on responses
- They provide positive reinforcement
Before starting, if the answer is yes to any of the following questions consult with a physician first:
- Is leg pain presenting?
- Is there constant pain at night?
- Is there a history of a recent accident or injury?
Effectiveness of Apps
A 12-week controlled trial in 2019, of individuals with low back pain, found that those who used an app did statistically better, in reducing their pain compared to the control group. The trial consisted of:
- Activity tracking
- Symptom tracking
- Sensor-guided exercise therapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Team behavioral coaching
- Individual behavioral coaching
- Educational information and knowledge
Those in the treatment group that completed the program found their pain level (based on a 100-point scale) had reduced 62% from a level of 44 to 14. Compared to an 8% reduction in the control group. However, scientific evidence on specific apps is limited and requires further research. However, the apps that scientists studied include:
A study in JMIR mHealth and UHealth found the apps below to help manage mind-body pain and the stress that comes with it. They were:
A review of 25 apps for low back pain found the higher the price, the higher the app scored in the scientific study. The apps with the top scores included:
- Strengthening exercises
- Core stability exercises
- They were:
The Lower Back Pain App, developed by a physiotherapist, scored the highest. It is a 10-week program where users are directed each week to perform three exercises twice daily. The exercises focus on:
- Spinal mobility
- Muscle strengthening
- Instructions are given through videos and writing.
Back Pain Specific Apps
A variety of back pain-specific applications are available. Try them out and see which fits your style. They are there to guide, strengthen the body, help relax, and lessen the pain.
Chronic stress is like poison to the body. It negatively impacts every aspect of the body’s health and is more dangerous because of its ability to present without realizing it. One of the body’s systems responsible for handling difficult situations is the immune system. Specifically, cells of the immune systems have receptors that recognize stress hormones like cortisol. Acute stress can cause immune system problems by increasing the release of inflammatory cytokines that are a special type of immune cell. Stress, immunity, and disease can affect each other. But these relationships can be moderated by:
What is important is to develop a healthy strategy to relieve the symptoms of stress like meditating, exercising, and spending time with friends/family.
Best Evidence Rehabilitation for Chronic Pain Part 3: Low Back Pain www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6679058/
Current Directions in Stress and Human Immune Function. Current opinion in psychology vol. 5 (2015): 13-17. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.03.007 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4465119/
The Role of Psychosocial Processes in the Development and Maintenance of Chronic Pain pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27586832/#affiliation-1
Assessment of the Quality of Mobile Applications (Apps) for Management of Low Back Pain Using the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS) www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7763508/#B12-ijerph-17-09209
Surgical versus nonsurgical treatment of chronic low back pain: A meta-analysis based on current evidence pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26406211/
Randomized controlled trial of a 12-week digital care program in improving low back pain www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6550254/#CR8
Evaluation of Self-Management Support Functions in Apps for People With Persistent Pain: Systematic Review mhealth.jmir.org/2019/2/e13080/
App-based multidisciplinary back pain treatment versus combined physiotherapy plus online education: a randomized controlled trial www.nature.com/articles/s41746-019-0109-x
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