Skip the pain killers when treating back pain

Physicians often prescribe pain medication as a first line of therapy for lower back pain, according to the American College of Physicians. Now, the college’s new guideline on lower back pain treatment is encouraging patients to try massage, yoga, exercise, acupuncture and other similar therapies before reaching for a pain killer. Being active and waiting it out might, in some cases, be all that’s needed for the pain to go away, according to the guideline.

“For acute back pain, the analogy is to the common cold,” spine researcher Rick Deyo, MD, MPH, said in an article published in February by the New York Times. “It is very common and very annoying when it happens. But most of the time it will not result in anything major or serious.”

Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons for physician visits in the U.S., according to the guideline published Feb. 14. “Low back pain is associated with high costs, including those related to healthcare and indirect costs from missed work or reduced productivity,” researchers wrote in the guideline. They developed the guideline after reviewing studies on treating lower back pain.

Their recommendations include the following:

• Most patients with acute lower back pain improve over time regardless of treatment. These patients should choose heat, massage, acupuncture or other methods, rather than pain killers.

• Patients with chronic lower back pain should first choose treatment involving exercise, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction, tai chi, yoga, biofeedback and other nonmedicine-based therapies.

• Patients with chronic lower back pain who haven’t responded to nonmedication treatment should choose nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs first. Opioids should only be used if the potential benefits outweigh risks for patients.

A recent online blog on offered similar suggestions for treating lower back pain without using medication.

• Get aerobic exercise.

• Exercise the core.

• Receive massage therapy.

• Meditate.

•Address any sleep problems.

• Stretch hamstrings twice daily.

• Use heat or cold to soothe pain.

Click here for information on how to prevent and treat back pain.

About the author
Sallie Jimenez

Sallie Jimenez 

Senior Nursing Editor Sallie Jimenez develops and edits content for OnCourse Learning’s blog, which covers industry news and trends in the nursing profession and healthcare. She has more than 22 years of healthcare journalism, content marketing and editing experience.

3 responses to “Skip the pain killers when treating back pain”

  1. What if none of these have worked. Tried yoga, pt , meditation, acupuncture . Am not on any medications but gabapentin . Was on etodolac but stoped cause I have severe. Gerd and am having problems with that. Aleve helps a little but try not to use it if possible. Have 4 discs lower back , neck disc and neuropathy both legs.severe arthritis , finto and am 74 , slightly over weight . Try to do my bike daily and sit down exercises but do not help that much . Muscular relaxers work and atavan , digoxin help to sleep . Got a lot of trouble sleeping with lots of gas and muscle pain in neck and shoulders. Help!!!!

  2. Hi, the nice blog regarding back pain. Most of the people suffering from the back pain due to different reasons. Thanks for sharing informative information regarding how people can get rid of it. Keep share informative information like this.

  3. Your article failed to provide all the facts! The American College of Physicians also recommended spinal manipulation as was first noted by the US Department of Health and Human Services for acute lower back in adults in 1994! It is truly amazing that certain health professionals continue in their failure to recognize chiropractic for its non-drug, non-surgical treatment in this day and age of opioid crisis and escalating health care costs.
    Randy McCracken a licensed D.C. since 1979

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