These Treatments May Not Work For Lower Back Pain
What works for back pain?
Despite being one of the most debilitating things we experience, lower back pain is one of the most common injuries across the world. To put the issue into perspective, research suggests that 540 million people currently suffer from lower back pain.
Depending on the severity, people are unable to enjoy their favourite hobbies, are forced to take time off work and can even be left bed stricken.
Because it seriously limits mobility and can cause an awful lot of distress.
Now, not all sufferers seek help from their local chiropractor or healthcare professional, which can be a huge cause for concern. Regular exercise, proven rehabilitation techniques, regular chiropractic care and generally being active is very important when coping with lower back pain.
Would you be surprised if I told you that many of the traditional methods used to address lower back pain actually don’t do that much? In some cases, they may even make back pain worse.
Let’s explore this a little more.
What treatment options for back pain may not work?
Whether it’s frequent steroid injections in the affected area, highly addictive opioid drugs or drastic surgery, the efficacy of these treatments in helping you to recover from back pain has been called into question. Let's cover some of those options now.
Does paracetamol help in back pain recovery?
A recent study published in The Lancet interpreted their results like this:
“Our findings suggest that regular or as-needed dosing with paracetamol does not affect recovery time compared with placebo in low-back pain, and question the universal endorsement of paracetamol in this patient group.”
Simply put, why would routinely taking a pill, and masking your symptoms, help you to recover from an underlying issue? You can read more about this study here.
Is spinal surgery effective for lower back pain?
In some cases this may be an appropriate solution however an article in The Conversation recently discussed that spinal fusion surgery is costly and suggested there is little evidence it works.
Simply put, despite surgical procedures for lower back pain being on the rise, current evidence doesn’t support spinal fusion for back pain.
The studies done to date (randomised trials - regarded as the gold standard for evidence) suggest spinal fusion has little advantage over well-structured rehabilitation programs (think exercise posture improvements, chiropractic or other manual therapies), or psychological interventions, for back pain.
There are also recent news reports that Australians are undergoing costly and often unnecessary surgical procedures, amplifying concerns that for years patients have been getting the wrong treatment.
What about injections for lower back pain?
Steroid injections are used to help relieve pain. They are epidural injections, injected into the problematic area.
However, an article published in the Washington Post discussed a recent study that suggests steroid shots have no long-term benefit. The report indicated that injections might provide short term relief from pain but don’t provide any longer term benefit. Nor do they address any underlying causes of the pain.
Steroid injections for back pain are invasive procedures that come with risks (as any treatment does). The risk of infection is possible so to the risk of the injections becoming less effective and weakening tissue in the affected area, the more they are used.
Do opioids work for lower back pain?
While it is true that opioids (prescription painkillers) work to reduce feelings of pain, there is very little evidence that these drugs help in recovery or improve quality of life. In fact, the use of opioids, especially prolonged use, comes with some serious side effects, including addiction and accidental overdose.
There has been enormous media attention lately on the ‘opioid crisis’ and you only need to look to Australia’s Annual Overdose Report to see how bad the problem is.
Opioid use (and prescription) is on the rise and linked to this increase is an increase in the following:
- Accidental death due to overdose
Here’s the crazy part: According to Vox, these opioids were being prescribed before we had evidence of their effectiveness in helping people with chronic lower back pain.
It gets worse: Now high-quality evidence is coming in and what does it suggest? That opioids don’t actually help many patients with chronic low back pain.
Addressing symptoms versus causes
You see, in nearly every country around the globe, treating lower back pain often focuses on managing symptoms. While this is important to do, if you want to find real relief from back pain, you need to look to both it’s cause, and the lifestyle/behavioural/postural habits that may make you more prone to back pain
Strategies that don’t work
Moreover, in the recently published Lancet Medical Journal, it was highlighted that governments and health leaders on a worldwide scale need to stand and take responsibility for the rising problem. It was stated that they need to “tackle entrenched and counterproductive reimbursement strategies, vested interests, and financial and professional incentives that maintain the status quo.”
There’s no denying that lower back pain is an overwhelming drain on economies, individuals and the health sector. But, that’s no excuse for cutting corners or further reducing the quality of life for the sufferers by using wrong treatment strategies.
Chiropractors adjust the cause of many health challenges, including lower back pain. More and more people are waking up to the benefits of holistic strategies for health, like chiropractic, other manual therapies, exercise and stretching. Better posture habits, behavioural changes and shifts in your lifestyle also contribute to addressing the back pain crisis.
When a variety of studies expose an array of common treatments that often do more harm than good when lower back pain is concerned, it really should be an eye-opener for health practitioners around the world.
Find out more about chiropractic
Many people think that chiropractors only help lower back pain. While chiropractic may be a great option to address your lower back pain, there are also many other issues chiropractic can help you with!
Some common conditions that chiropractors may be able to help you with include:
To find out more about any of these health challenges and how The Back Clinic may help, contact our team today.