Friday, August 16, 2013

Most Back Pain Treatments Are Ineffective and Unnecessary

An estimated 80 percent of Americans will suffer from chronic back pain at some point in life. Nearly 30 percent may be struggling with persistent or chronic back pain right now,1 leading many to resort to prescription painkillers, expensive steroid shots or even surgery.
This despite the fact that, in most cases, back pain is a result of simple mechanical problems relating to poor posture or improper movement, which are best prevented and managed by regular exercise and strengthening your back and abdominal muscles.
It is estimated that back pain accounts for more than 10 percent of all primary care doctors visits each year, and the cost for treatment stacks up to $86 billion annually.2 According to recent research, much of this treatment is unnecessary, while simultaneously failing to successfully address the problem.
As reported by The New York Times:3
“Well-established guidelines for the treatment of back pain require very conservative management — in most cases, no more than aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol) and physical therapy.
Advanced imaging procedures, narcotics and referrals to other physicians are recommended only for the most refractory cases or those with serious other symptoms. But a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine4suggests that doctors are not following the guidelines.”

Back Pain Is Often Over-Treated

The team reviewed more than 23,900 outpatient visits for back pain that was unrelated to more serious conditions (such as cancer) over a 12-year period (1999-2010), and found that during this time:5
  • Use of Tylenol and other NSAIDs declined by just over 50 percent
  • Prescriptions for opiates increased by 51 percent
  • CT and MRI scans also rose by 57 percent
  • Referrals to specialists increased by 106 percent
  • Use of physical therapy remained steady at about 20 percent
Needless to say, the trend shows that back pain is increasingly being treated with addictive drugs and diagnostic exams that expose patients to potentially unnecessary and dangerous levels of radiation. Back pain is actually one of the primary reasons why so many American adults get addicted to pain killers.
Furthermore, the existing treatments do not cure back pain—they only treat the symptoms. Senior author, Dr. Bruce E. Landon, a professor of health care policy at Harvard, told The New York Times6 that back pain actually tends to improve by itself in most cases, adding:
“It’s a long conversation for physicians to educate patients. Often it’s easier just to order a test or give a narcotic rather than having a conversation. It’s not always easy to do the right thing.”
Opiates are not the only dangerous drugs being pushed for back pain. One of the most egregious examples of Big Pharma disease mongering7 is the emergence of ads suggesting your back pain may be caused by ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory disease of the axial skeleton, which includes the spine.
“Do you have back pain? Are you dismissing it as resulting from "lifting too much" at the gym or "bad posture”? one radio ad asks. “You might have ankylosing spondylitis.”
The drug advertised is Humira, which has a price tag of about $20,000 a year. It is reprehensible for drug companies to promote this expensive and dangerous drug for an exceedingly rare cause of low back pain, which likely is responsible for less than a tenth of a tenth of one percent of low back pain!
Side effects of the drug8 include tuberculosis, serious infections, increased risk of lymphoma and other cancers, hepatitis B infection in carriers of the virus, allergic reactions, nervous system problems, blood problems, heart failure, certain immune reactions including a lupus-like syndrome, liver problems, new or worsening psoriasis, and many more. Considering the fact that most cases of low back pain are not caused by inflammatory conditions, you probably do not need this drug, although your doctor may very well give it to you should you ask.

Don’t Settle for Band-Aids—Treat the Root Cause of Your Back Pain

With the exception of blunt force injuries, low back pain is commonly caused and exacerbated by:
Poor posturePoor physical conditioning facilitated by inactivityInternal disease, such as kidney stones, infections, blood clots
ObesityPsychological/emotional stressOsteoporosis (bone loss)

Since poor posture and/or improper movement is to blame for most cases of back pain, one of the best things you can do to prevent and manage back pain is to exercise regularly and keep your back and abdominal muscles strong. Foundation Training—an innovative method developed by Dr. Eric Goodman to treat his own chronic low back pain—is an excellent alternative to the Band Aid responses so many are given. The program is inexpensive and can be surprisingly helpful, as these exercises are designed to help you strengthen your entire core and move the way nature intended.
Many people fail to realize that many times back pain actually originates from tension and imbalance at a completely different place than where the pain is felt. For example, the very act of sitting for long periods of time ends up shortening the iliacus, psoas and quadratus lumborum muscles that connect from your lumbar region to the top of your femur and pelvis. When these muscles are chronically short, it can cause severe pain when you stand up as they will effectively pull your lower back (lumbar) forward.
The reality is that the imbalance among the anterior and posterior chains of muscles leads to many of the physical pains experienced daily. By rebalancing these muscles, you can remedy many pains and discomforts. Teaching your body to naturally support itself at the deepest level is going to be far more effective than strapping on an external back brace, which over time can lead to even weaker musculature.  Catch the rest of the story at at the above link.

Our Notes:

What we have often recommended for many people with back pain isn't really covered here.  We have suggested swimming.  Most of those who followed the idea reported tremendous improvements in their back pain issues to the pain completely disappearing for good after weeks of daily swimming.  Not everyone will have these same results but it's a low cost way to relieve pain and if it does work for you, all the better.

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1 comment:

  1. I think he's right. there's another article about back pain that I read from his article and doing it naturally is what I think right rather than taking any medicine.


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