Study Design. Multicenter, randomized, controlled trial on preoperative pain neuroscience education (NE) for lumbar radiculopathy.
Objective. To determine if the addition of NE to usual preoperative education would result in superior outcomes with regard to pain, function, surgical experience, and health care utilization postsurgery.
Summary of Background Data. One in 4 patients after lumbar surgery (LS) for radiculopathy experience persistent pain and disability, which is nonresponsive to perioperative treatments. NE focusing on the neurophysiology of pain has been shown to decrease pain and disability in populations with chronic low back pain.
Methods. Eligible patients scheduled for LS for radiculopathy were randomized to receive either preoperative usual care (UC) or a combination of UC plus 1 session of NE delivered by a physical therapist (verbal one-on-one format) and a NE booklet. Sixty-seven patients completed the following outcomes prior to LS (baseline), and 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after LS: low back pain (numeric rating scale), leg pain (numeric rating scale), function (Oswestry Disability Index), various beliefs and experiences related to LS (10-item survey with Likert scale responses), and postoperative utilization of health care (utilization of health care questionnaire).
Results. At 1-year follow-up, there were no statistical differences between the experimental and control groups with regard to primary outcome measure of low back pain (P = 0.183), leg pain (P = 0.075), and function (P = 0.365). In a majority of the categories regarding surgical experience, the NE group scored significantly better: better prepared for LS (P = 0.001); preoperative session preparing them for LS (P < 0.001) and LS meeting their expectations (P = 0.021). Health care utilization post-LS also favored the NE group (P = 0.007) resulting in 45% less health care expenditure compared with the control group in the 1-year follow-up period.
Conclusion. NE resulted in significant behavior change. Despite a similar pain and functional trajectory during the 1-year trial, patients with LS who received NE viewed their surgical experience more favorably and used less health care facility in the form of medical tests and treatments.
Level of Evidence: 2
We report on the results of a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial on preoperative pain neuroscience education versus usual care in postoperative outcomes after surgery for lumbar radiculopathy. At 1-year follow-up, no differences were seen for pain and functional outcomes; however, the experimental group viewed their surgical experience more favorably and used less health care services.
*International Spine Pain Institute, Story City, IA
†Department of Physiotherapy, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa; and
‡Department of Physical Therapy, School of Allied Health Sciences, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Emilio J. Puentedura, DPT, PhD, PT, Department of Physical Therapy, School of Allied Health Sciences, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 453029, Las Vegas, NV 89154; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Acknowledgment date: March 31, 2014. Revision date: April 22, 2014. Acceptance date: April 29, 2014.
The manuscript submitted does not contain information about medical device(s).
No funds were received in support of this work.
No relevant financial activities outside the submitted work.