Technology delivering support to those with back pain anywhere, any time

With the number of people living with low back pain escalating sharply, researchers are turning to widely-accessible technology to reduce the impact of the disabling condition.

The team from the University of Sydney and the Kolling Institute has launched a study measuring the effectiveness of a mobile health program which offers self-management strategies via text messages.

Study lead Professor Manuela Ferreira said broader options for care are needed given the number of people who experience the condition.

“Low back pain is the greatest cause of disability worldwide, impacting social, family and work activities,” she said.

“In Australia, it affects one in six people and is the main reason Australians miss work and retire involuntarily.

“New modelling conducted by our team estimates more than 800 million people globally will be living with low back pain by 2050, a 36 percent increase from 2020.

“People with low back pain need affordable interventions to help them manage their condition, and this health program provides practical, evidenced-based strategies.

“Text messaging is an easy, accessible and affordable intervention that can empower those with low back pain to better manage their own symptoms.

“It can be used to support people anywhere, at any time of the day.

“Text messaging initiatives have been shown to help people with chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and we are working to determine if this approach can also be an effective tool for those with chronic back pain.”

The study, named TEXT4myBACK, is assessing two formats of text message interventions, which differ in frequency and content.

Researchers will then measure whether the text messages are improving function and back pain symptoms.

The research team is recruiting participants for the project, so if you have low back pain and would like to find out about participating in the study, visit and complete the pre-screening survey.