Last updated on April 2018

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia in Chronic Spinal Pain


Brief description of study

Chronic spinal pain (CSP) includes chronic low back and neck pain. CSP is a highly prevalent and severely debilitating disorder characterized by tremendous personal and socioeconomic impact, long-term sick leave, low quality of life and very high socioeconomical costs. The current strategies for treating CSP are not yet optimal in reducing pain and related disability, urging the need for improvement. A possible problem is that the current approaches are often to limited and only address pain.

Current treatments for CSP do not address associated complaints like sleeping problems which are however important issues. If present, sleeping problems may contribute to CSP severity and related disability. If left untreated, they represent a barrier for effective CSP management. Up to now, however, sleeping problems are hardly addressed and if so, it is mostly limited to sleeping medication. This is a problem since the efficacy and safety of drug treatment has not been established.

Therefore, within the current innovative project we propose examining the added value of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) to the current best physical therapy treatment for CSP. CBT-I includes changing negative thoughts about sleep, sleep hygiene, altering sleeping patterns, and teaching relaxation skills.

The objectives of the study are to examine if CBT-I combined with the modern physical therapy approach (education about pain followed by exercise therapy) is more effective than the modern physical therapy approach alone for reducing pain, improving sleep and functionality in CSP patients with sleeping problems.

Therefore 120 CSP patients with sleeping problems will be randomly divided over the 2 treatment programs (60 per group) and will be assessed before and after their 14-week therapy program consisting of 18 therapy sessions. Comparisons will be made for pain severity, sleep quality and functionality.

Detailed Study Description

Modern pain neuroscience has advanced our understanding of chronic spinal pain (CSP). Despite the scientific progresses with regard to the treatment of chronic spinal pain (CSP), current treatments for CSP do not address pain comorbidities like insomnia, an important yet seldom addressed issue. Treatment of CSP mostly still relies on monotherapies or on biomedical models, as shown by expensive but ineffective treatments like lumbar fusion surgery, ignoring important comorbidities such as insomnia.

Within the current innovative project we propose examining the added value of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) to the current best evidence treatment for CSP. The innovative nature of this approach to CSP goes well beyond the combination of 2 available and effective treatments: combining cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia with the recently established modern neuroscience approach (pain neuroscience education followed by cognition-targeted exercise therapy) strengthens the content of both individual approaches and applies the current understanding regarding insomnia and pain neuroscience to clinical practice. This innovative combination will result in a synergistic effect of both treatments.

The primary scientific objective of the study is to examine if CBT-I combined with a modern neuroscience approach (pain neuroscience education followed by cognition-targeted exercise therapy) is more effective than the modern neuroscience approach alone for reducing pain in CSP patients with insomnia. Secondary objectives of the study are to examine if CBT-I combined with the modern neuroscience approach is more effective than the modern neuroscience approach alone for improving pain related outcomes, sleep related outcomes and physical activity/functionality in CSP patients with insomnia.

To comply with these scientific objectives, the 120 CSP patients with comorbid insomnia will be subjected to the baseline assessment of all outcome measures.

Follow-up assessments will be performed immediately after 14 weeks of therapy (all tests), and 3 months (questionnaires), 6 months (questionnaires) and 12 months (all tests, depending on a go/no go decision) after finishing the therapeutic intervention.

To investigate these objectives, a muli-center triple-blind randomized, controlled trial with 1 year follow up will be performed.

Appropriate statistical analyses will be performed to evaluate and compare treatment effects. Statistical, as well as clinical significant differences will be defined and the effect size will be determined.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03482856

Find a site near you

Start Over