Treat low back pain without drugs: Research by the American College of Physicians
Treat low back pain without drugs – it appears to be the newest shift in recommendations for American GPs. They have been told that spinal manipulation -among a range of options – is worth looking into before thinking about prescribing drugs. The American College of Physicians has released new guidelines in connection with treating low back pain. And the guidelines are very clear, advising doctors who are seeing patients with chronic back pain: Before taking drugs and medicines, there are a whole list of other treatment options the ACP recommends. Spinal manipulation is one of them, and so is yoga and exercise. Now this can be seen as a major shift in how manipulation, and a more holistic approach to low back pain, are perceived. It’s also a shift in how scientists give advice to GPs (or ‘physicians’ ) as they’re called in the US).
Most of us – at some point in our lives – will suffer from back pain. And it remains one of the common reasons why you would go and see the doctor. The most likely next step, until now, would be to start using medication. With these guidelines, issued by the American College of Physicians, that is about to change.
Who says this is reliable information?
To advise GPs to treat low back pain without drugs is quite a change in the health industry. The full guideline is titled “Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians.” The authors are A. Qaseem, T.J. Wilt, R.M. McLean, and M.A. Forciea, for the Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians.
What is low back pain?
Most instances of low back pain will be a temporary problem which will resolve after a few days or weeks with little or no treatment. Depending on what is causing the pain, and how long you have been experiencing it, you may need treatment. Specialists use 3 different labels to define how chronic your low back pain is: If it lasts less than a month, it’s called acute. Longer than 3 months would be labeled as chronic. Anything in between is called subacute. Why is this important? Because particularly for chronic low back pain, the American Physicians looked at 150 studies, on the use of medicines and other treatments (like spinal manipulation), for treating low back pain in adults. With their research in the back of their mind, they have now issued the new guidelines to their GPs (Physicians) throughout the United States. Their conclusion (treat low back pain without drugs if you can) is very clear.
What else can help you get rid of the pain?
Let’s face it: if you suffer from this type of pain, all you really want is get rid of it. The authors of the guidelines include other treatment options for chronic low back pain, which they recommend GPs to explore before prescribing drugs. Acupuncture, stress reduction using mindfulness, yoga, laser therapy and exercise are just a few more options, apart from spinal manipulation.
So what if my back pain isn’t chronic
If your back pain has been going on for a couple of days or weeks, but not the full 12 weeks, then it wouldn’t be labeled as chronic. If it’s acute or subacute, then it means that you would get better over time and you wouldn’t need medicines. Again, the American College of Physicians recommends that GPs explore the alternative methods, to relieve the pain.
Good questions to ask to your therapist
In the same set of guidelines for (American) GPs, we learn about the essential questions you can ask your practitioner, when looking into your back pain. Here are a few good ones you can ask:
Are there activities I should avoid?
What if my pain gets worse?
How can I prevent back pain in the future?
Are there any exercises I can do to strengthen my back?
When can I go back to work?
How this is making headlines in the US: US National Public Library “Drugs should be a last resort to treat acute lower back pain”.
The Guidelines published on Annals.org: Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians