Consumer Reports magazine looked into the various remedies on the market for helping back pain. Did you know that about 80 percent of people will suffer such pain sometime that they will seek help from a professional? And in many cases, they find that “conservative” treatments can be very helpful. As the article puts it, “There’s a revolution in the treatment of back pain now that research shows chiropractic, physical therapy, and yoga can help as much as surgery or drugs – with far fewer risks.”
As a matter of fact, even the American College of Physicians (ACP) – which represents primary care doctors, the providers most people visit when their back hurts – has issued guidelines saying that patients’ first stop should be for nondrug measures. That is a remarkable change in conventional medical thinking.
How Was the Consumer Reports Study Conducted?
In addition to researching the literature about back pain treatments, Consumer Reports surveyed 3562 back pain sufferers. 80 percent of these people who had sought help from chiropractic, yoga, massage, tai chi said it helped them. Indeed, that is a higher percentage than those who reported being helped by visiting a medical doctor. One very large organization – the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – has made nondrug therapies the foundation of its pain-treatment program and doing so has allowed them to reduce their opioid use by 25 percent since 2002.
What About Surgery?
Consumer Reports stated that in about one-third of the people surveyed, their back pain had gone on for three months or more, noting that it can take weeks or months for a bulging disc to heal and that some people with severe arthritis might never be pain-free. For these folks, the report made two recommendations: avoid dangerous drugs, using opioids only as a last resort and with great caution. Secondly, don’t rush to surgery. Recommending that surgery only be considered if an X-ray or MRI confirmed an abnormality in the spine that could be corrected through surgery, and even then, surgery isn’t always the way to go. Many of these people get better on their own.
Yours for better health,
Jon Mills, DC