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Functional Restoration: A New Treatment Approach for Chronic Spinal Pain

functional restorationCoping with chronic spine pain can be scary. After a while, some patients grow fearful of engaging in any activity that might trigger pain. To address these fears and get patients back on track, functional restoration programs are popping up across the country.

Functional restoration is a rehabilitation method that strives to increase physical function, improve pain-coping skills, and promote the return to a productive lifestyle for chronic spine pain patients.

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, functional restoration researchers believe that the key of these types of rehab programs is to help people shift the way they think about pain. In the article, Kelli Allen, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, says that these programs help people go from thinking, “It’s only going to get worse and there is nothing I can do about it,” to “I have pain, but there are some things I can do about it.”

Functional restoration therapy is available for patients who are unable to participate in work or fundamental life activities for longer than three months. Patients undergo a series of screenings, including ensuring their cases are not candidates for surgery, and all other reasonable medical treatments should be exhausted. Other screening tests can include assessments by a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and a psychologist.

Because the rehabilitation is a 360-degree look at coping with spine pain, functional restoration programs work on any range of issues, from pain management and sitting and standing for long periods of time, to exercises that build core strength, to methods for coping with stress or depression and help with interviewing skills. A boot-camp-like structure helps patients practice physical therapy exercises while also focusing on getting better with everyday activities, such as learning how to properly lift books and put them on a shelf.

Research on functional restoration shows that the main benefit of these programs is improved endurance. When comparing active individual physical therapy to functional restoration programs, researchers found that both programs are effective, but patients who participating in functional restoration experienced longer-lasting gains from the program.

Have you been experiencing chronic spine pain? Contact our office to book an appointment for a consultation.