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BMJ Video

The Alexander Technique Long-term Benefits

The British Medical Journal has just reported that the Alexander Technique offers long-term benefits for chronic and recurrent back pain.

The clinical trial confirms that the Alexander Technique is more effective than other more traditional approaches to back pain. What is particularly exciting and important, is that this information is now endorsed by the British Medical Journal for the first time, and that the evidence is based on rigorous scientific data.

The BMJ writes:

A series of 24 lessons in the Alexander technique taught by registered teachers provides long term benefits for patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain. 

The results of the study indicated that of the 579 people who participated in the clinical trial, the average number of days in pain per month was reduced from 21 to 3 and importantly, this benefit was maintained a year later.

Outcomes at three months and one year

Little change occurred in Roland disability score or days in pain in the control group (table 3Go). Compared with the control group, significant reductions took place for all interventions for Roland disability score and days in pain at three months. 

The effect of 24 lessons in the Alexander technique was greater at one year than at three months, with a 42% reduction in Roland disability score and an 86% reduction in days in pain compared with the control group (table 4Go). The effect of six lessons was maintained—a 17% reduction in Roland disability score and a 48% reduction in days in pain. Exercise still had a significant effect on Roland disability score (17% reduction) but not on days in pain. Massage no longer had an effect on Roland disability score but days in pain was reduced (by 33%). Twenty four lessons in the Alexander technique also had a significant effect on other outcomes; similar but smaller changes followed six lessons. Massage produced little change in other outcomes except perception of overall improvement in back pain (health transition), enablement, and overall satisfaction.

Excerpts from Randomised controlled trial of Alexander Technique Lessons, Exercise, and Massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain.

(Published 19 August 2008, doi:10.1136/bmj.a884  Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a884) See the full article at www.bmj.com

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