7 Low Back Pain Treatment Options

Approximately 65 million people experience back pain each year.  Low back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work. Next to the common cold, low back pain is the most frequent reason for doctor visits.

Americans spend at least $50 billion each year in attempts to resolve their low back pain.  Below are 7 treatment options for a person to consider when dealing with a low back pain problem.

7 Low Back Pain Treatment Options:

#1  Bed rest:  Prolonged immobilization may have adverse effects such as muscle splinting and limited range of motion, and the possibility of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots) in the legs.

#2  NSAIDs (Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs):  It is known that prolonged use can be dangerous for a person’s cardiovascular health, and can lead to gastrointestinal and kidney problems.

#3  Back Surgery: Close to 1 million spinal surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year. One quarter of them are spinal fusions, costing about $60,000 each.  Most of these surgeries have a low success rate, and usually require re-operation. A majority of surgery patients are left in pain, out of work and dependent on pain-relieving drugs. Click here for the PubMed abstract about the long term outcomes of lumbar fusion.

#4  Corticosteroid injections:  They are used primarily for their anti-inflammatory effects.  Over time, it has been reported that they cause the skin to atrophy and thin, making the person more susceptible to further injury.

#5  ChiropracticA 2009 Consumer Reports Health survey on back pain revealed that 59% of respondents were satisfied with Chiropractic care for back pain relief.

#6  Physical Medicine:  Physical Therapy programs have been successful with the active involvement of the patient, however, if the patient doesn’t comply during the rehabilitation process, results can fall flat.  Consumer reports say that Lower-back pain can often be relieved by exercise, such as yoga, Pilates and back strengthening.

#7  MASSAGE THERAPY: (my personal favorite) Evidence suggests that Massage is one of the most promising drug-free and surgery-free methods for treating low back pain.

According to a 2001 study on massage and back pain conducted at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, “Massage lessened lower back pain, depression and anxiety, and improved sleep. The massage therapy group also showed improved range of motion and their serotonin and dopamine levels were higher.” (International Journal of Neuroscience, 106, 131-145.)

More recently, in the July 5, 2011 Annals of Internal Medicine, a low back pain study conducted by the Group Health Research Institute revealed that getting a swedish or structural massage was worth considering to help alleviate chronic low back pain.  After receiving 1 massage a week for 10 weeks, 1 out of 3 patients improved and were pain free, compared to 1 in 25 given ‘usual care’.  Usual care applies to any doctor recommended treatment, including painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, or physical therapy. The massage ultimately helped the study participants with low back pain even after 6 months, allowing them remain active and productive.

“This is important because chronic back pain is among the most common reasons people see doctors and alternative practitioners, including massage therapists,” says Dr. Cherkin, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute. “It’s also a common cause of disability, absenteeism, and ‘presenteeism,’ when people are at work but can’t perform well.”

It was reported that after one year, the benefits of the massage were no longer significant, probably because they hadn’t come in for any follow up massage care.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE STUDY… Watch this 2 minute video.

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