Context • Opioids decrease pain and improve functional capacity and quality of life; however, they are not always effective and are associated with harmful side effects. Few studies have shown that relaxation-based therapies, in comparison with usual care, can decrease pain.
Objective • The objective of the study was to investigate whether a controlled relaxation treatment, Jacobson progressive muscular relaxation (PMR), was effective in relieving chronic low-back pain (CLBP) and reducing pain comorbidities. The research team hypothesized that PMR-controlled relaxation could be more effective in reducing CLBP than music.
Design • The research team designed a randomized, controlled, crossover study.
Setting • The study took place in the pain unit, a clinic, in the Department of Health at Alicante-General Hospital (Alicante, Spain).
Participants • Participants in this study were 58 adults with nononcological CLBP, secondary to lumbar canal stenosis, who had been treated with opioids without any changes in the 3 mo prior to the study.
Intervention • Participants were randomly assigned to
1 of 2 groups, each of which received 2 treatments, but in a different order (ie, either AB or BA where A was the
standardized PMR, the intervention, and B was relaxing music, the control. For both groups, the 2 treatment periods were 8 wk in length, with a 1-mo washout period between them.
Outcome Measures • The primary outcome measures included (1) a visual analogue scale—pain and relief intensity; (2) the 12-item short form health survey—quality of life; (3) the hospital anxiety and depression scale—anxiety and depression; and (4) the medical outcomes study sleep scale—sleep disturbances. Secondary outcome measures included a self-efficacy scale and a measure of satisfaction with treatment and compliance.
Results • Pain was mostly mild to moderate. Greater decreases in pain between baseline and postintervention were observed for the PMR vs the control treatment in the mild pain category, with a VAS difference of 1.8 cm and
P = .018. Significant differences were also found in anxiety, depression, quality of life, and sleep between participants in the 3 pain categories. Self-rated adherence was high.
Conclusions • Findings support the efficacy and acceptability of a self-guided PMR intervention for reducing CLBP with minimal time with a therapist.