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FOTO Rehab Outcomes Blog

Is Pain Science Education Helpful for Older Adults with Persistent Back Pain?

More and more research has been published about pain neuroscience education. As you can see, the google trend only shows growth. 


I know from the upcoming report, Data Trends in U.S. Healthcare and Patient Rehabilitation - Focus Patient Characteristics, Patient Outcomes and Clinical Performance, there has been growth in the older adult population treated by clinicians. I can also see that the low back is one of the top three body parts treated.

Research indicates that more often than not, no one really knows exactly why a person is experiencing pain. Treatment options include spending time educating a patient about pain.

This study happens to be the first that I have seen that focuses on older adults.  Is pain neuroscience education helpful for this population experiencing low back pain?

You'll find the abstract below.

The use of pain neuroscience education in older adults with chronic back and/or lower extremity pain.




Chronic pain due to musculoskeletal disorders is the leading cause of disability among older adults and is associated with a lower quality of life, reduced function, and increased risk of institutionalization. Pain Neuroscience Education (PNE) has demonstrated effectiveness in reducing pain and improving pain self-efficacy in individuals under 60 years of age, but there is a paucity of research examining its use with older adults. If PNE has similar effects in older adults, it has the potential to be a useful non-pharmacological intervention for this population.


This quasi-experimental feasibility study included 25 subjects over the age of 65 with a 3 month or greater history of lower back and/or lower extremity pain. Subjects participated in two semi-standardized one-on-one PNE sessions and were asked to read a booklet (Why Do I Hurt, Louw, International Spine and Pain Institute, USA) in between sessions. Subjects' perception of PNE was measured after the second session and gait speed, pain disability, and fear of movement were measured pre- and post-PNE.


Subjects consistently reported a positive experience with PNE. There were statically significant positive improvements in gait speed, pain disability, and fear of movement after the intervention.


PNE is a feasible and potentially efficacious treatment for older adults with chronic pain.

 2018 Mar 30:1-11. doi: 10.1080/09593985.2018.1456586. [Epub ahead of print]

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