New app helps patients relieve back pain

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Researchers have developed a new app, selfBACK, a solution that could enable more people to deal with back pain in a better way, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The app explains what back pain is and tailors advice and feedback to actions patients can take to deal with the pain, including physical activity and exercise.

Each week, the app provides users with a customized plan to follow. Since the app uses artificial intelligence and draws on other people’s experiences with back pain, the advice individual users receive will be specially personalized for their needs.

To evaluate the effect of the selfBACK app, the researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial that included 461 patients with back pain from Norway and Denmark. Participants reported on their progress after three, six, and nine months of using the app.

After three months, 39 percent of the participants in the control group reported that they had experienced major improvements in their back pain, compared to 52 percent of the participants who used the app. The researchers said the probability of a major improvement was about 32 percent higher for participants who used the app, and the same differences were also present after six and nine months.

Developing and evaluating the app system has taken five years, but the results are very promising, the researchers said. Using the app as a supplement to regular treatment shows positive results for individuals who want to relieve their back pain.