Cognitive Functional Therapy (CFT) is a very effective (more info on effectiveness below) form of treatment and rehabilitation that was first developed for the management of low back pain and is now used for most musculoskeletal aches or pains. Here’s a very nice video with Prof. Peter O’Sullivan where he talks about back pain (but again the concepts can be applied to most aches and pains) and CFT:
The current guidelines for the management of low back pain recommends several options including manual therapy with exercises. A recent paper measured the long-term effectiveness of CFT and found that CFT is more effective than manual therapy and exercises combined in reducing disability and this up to 3 years later – so pretty effective and long-term I would say! The CFT group also had lower levels of fear of movement,
depression and anxiety. This may sound surprising but let’s see why.
How does CFT work?
Pain is due to multiple things, including the way we move and the way we are. The way we are is highly influenced by our context so if we don’t sleep well for some time or if we’re having trouble at work, it can influence how we feel and pain. The idea of CFT is to provide an individualised management to people with disabling musculoskeletal aches and pains to help them to make sense of their pain, and to find together what they can do to help with their symptoms through exercises, movements, lifestyle advice etc.
The management usually includes some specific exercises to make movements more comfortable (desensitise the back or other body parts) and to then include them in everyday life to develop confidence and ability to return to a normal life. Discussions around lifestyle habits and potential beneficial changes are also usually discussed.