Back Pain? There’s An App For That
Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: August 12, 2021
Not everyone has access to a doctor at a moment’s notice, but the vast majority of adults have a cell phone, and that technology could soon allow them to better manage and prevent spine pain.
According to a recent trial out of Norway and Denmark, a new smartphone app called selfBACK can help patients successfully manage their back pain. For the study, researchers recruited 461 patients with differing types of back pain. Half of the patients received standard care implemented by health care providers, while the other half treated their back pain with the help of the selfBACK app.
An App To Treat Back Pain
When logging into the app for the first time, each patient was asked to answer a few questions about their overall lifestyle and history of back pain. The app’s AI system then took that information and developed a customized care plan for each patient based on the information that was given. More information is then entered as the individual progresses through the care plan, and new weekly exercises are given based on their progress or lack thereof.
Patients followed their prescribed treatment plans for three months and then were surveyed about their back pain. More than half of the patients who used the app reported a significant improvement in their back pain, while only a third of respondents in the control group said they felt better about their back pain.
Professor Paul Jarle Mork of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Department of Public Health and Nursing collaborated with Kerstan Bach, an associate professor at the university’s Department of Computer Science, in order to develop the app and its learning system. Professor Mork said he believes the app is so successful at helping treat back pain because it helps patients better understand the root cause of their discomfort and how they can best treat it.
“We can do a lot ourselves to reduce back pain through exercise and lifestyle adjustments,” said Mork. “A better understanding of the possible causes of back ailments also provides a better starting point for dealing with the pain on your own. However, self-management can be difficult to implement without any kind of help or support along the way.”
That’s where the app comes in. Instead of providing the patient with one time instructions that can be lost or forgotten, patients get updated information on a regular basis based on how they are responding to their current treatments. This real-time learning allows for a more individualized care plan tailored to a person’s needs.
“Hundreds of health apps are already available for mobile phones,” said Professor Mork. “But the selfBACK app stands out by being based on sound scientific evidence.”
It will be interesting to see if the app really takes off, but it does seem to be rooted in the basic idea that back pain treatment isn’t standard for everyone across the board. Staying active and adjusting your routine based on your progress or limitations is key to making improvements in your journey to be free from back pain.
But if you still prefer to be guided by a spine specialist who can assess you in person and give you personalized advice based on your specific situation, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and the team at the Midwest Spine & Brain Institute today.