Mobile Web tool helps patients control lower back pain

A mobile Web-based treatment tool is proving to help patients suffering from lower back pain, though researchers say more evidence is needed regarding such self-guided programs and user engagement.

Still, the potential of the tool, called FitBack, is bright, notes the study, "Mobile-Web App to Self-Manage Low Back Pain: Randomized Controlled Trial," published in the Journal of Internet Research.

The study involved 597 patients separated into three random groups: those aided via FitBack intervention, a control group and an alternative care group. All three groups suffer from low back pain (NLBP) that has no underlying medical cause, such as a tumor, infection or herniated disc.

Traditionally NLBP patients receive multidisciplinary treatments. The study, however, notes such treatment often proves impractical to implement and few providers offer treatment that meets medical industry guidelines.

For the study, the FitBack group and alternative group were sent eight emails providing Internet resources. The FitBack group also was sent weekly reminders for two months to undertake assessments. The control group was not contacted beyond an initial assessment reminder.

The researchers found "a theoretically based standalone responsive mobile-Web intervention that tailors content to users' preferences and interests can be an effective tool in self-management of low back pain."

Communication via email and text messages is proving to be valuable in healthcare given the cost-effectiveness, real-time interaction aspect and consumer use of mobile devices. For instance, text messaging is helping patients adhere to prescribed medication, as FierceMobileHealthcare has reported. Texting, as noted by another recent study, is also keeping teen diabetics engaged in healthcare issues and treatment.

FitBack users showed greater improvement compared to the other two groups. Those in the control group were 1.7 times more likely to report current back pain than FitBack users, and those in the alternative group were 1.6 times more likely to report current back pain at the four-month follow-up, according to the authors.

"The results are promising considering that the FitBack intervention was neither supported by professional caregivers nor integrated within a larger health promotion campaign, which might have provided additional support and encouragement for the participants," they said.

For more information:
- here's the study            

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