It’s difficult to overstate the importance of mindset for people with lower back pain. While your attitude toward your situation isn’t enough alone to change it, it can significantly alter your experience of pain. In study after study, people who have a positive outlook concerning recovery are shown to feel pain less intensely and to rate their quality of life higher.
One of the reasons why a positive attitude is important in the face of chronic pain is that it can mean the difference between passivity and proactivity. Those who view their pain conditions as fateful impositions on the activities they enjoy and as everlasting limitations are less likely to actively seek recovery. On the other hand, those who view pain conditions as restricting but possibly temporary situations that require modification rather than cessation of activity are more prone to maintain overall health and seek effective pain management treatments.
The aim of the study was to assess the effectiveness of physical therapy after lumbar disc surgery in lower back pain reduction. The effectiveness of physical therapy, begun 1 week after surgery and continued for 12 weeks, was compared with the same number and duration of sham neck massage treatments and no treatment at all. The sham massage group came out on par with the physical therapy group, with both yielding significant short-term improvements over no treatment. A summary of the study can be found at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
This study suggests that, post-surgery, pursuing any type of therapy may help reduce pain. If the reasons aren’t physiological, they are likely psychological. The brain has a way of sensing more pain when it expects to, which likely explains the placebo effect.