579 Patients with chronic or recurring back pain were allocated one of four types of treatment:
normal care such as painkillers;
physiotherapy or G.P. referral massage;
six Alexander Technique lessons, or
24 Alexander Technique lessons.
Half of the patients from each group were also prescribed an exercise programme, consisting of brisk walking for 30 minutes a day five times a week.
After a year, the researchers found that exercise combined with AT lessons significantly reduced pain and improved functioning.
Those having AT lessons also reported fewer days with back pain over the previous four weeks.
Patients getting normal NHS care had 21 days of back pain, compared with only four days amongst those having a full 24-lesson course of the Alexander Technique.
Professor Paul Little of the University of Southampton said this is a significant step forward in the long-term management of back pain.
For more details of the Back pain Trial,
go to the
British Medical Journal