(Mirror Daily, United States) – Just recently, the American College of Physicians released a new guideline. And according to it, an initial back pain treatment should not rely on prescription drugs. Instead, it could rely on heat wraps. And even physical exercise.
According to the guideline, lower back pain can strike at any time. And about a quarter of all Americans could be affected at any given time. Previous studies have shown the following.
Both acute and subacute lower back pain were seen to improve over time. And this regardless of the chosen treatment method. As such, the guideline makes the following recommendation. This was issued by the American College of Physicians.
Patients and clinicians as well should take a new approach. And stop relying on a prescription drug first treatment. Instead, they should initially try a nonpharmacological one. For example, they could start with superficial heat massages or heat wraps.
Or they could try acupuncture. This should theoretically help release the back pain tension. Patients could also try physical exercises. And spinal manipulation itself.
The American College of Physicians or ACP advises as follows. This new approach especially targets chronic low back pain patients. When treating their pain, they should initially head for a non-drug therapy approach.
ACP offered several factors that influenced this decision. For example, the fact that the pain goes away on its own. And the treatment method does not usually matter, according to them.
They also pointed out another fact. Previous studies have been analyzing the efficiency of drug-related therapies. More exactly, of acetaminophen. This is the active ingredient found in Tylenol. And according to the respective studies, it has little effect on low back pain.
As such, physicians themselves should change their approach. They should stop relying on opioids. And instead use these latter only as a last option. One that can be offered to patients that are in debilitating pain. Or those for which other therapies have failed.
Patients should first try heat treatments. Or they could turn towards a more physically-based method. For example, they could start exercising. Multidisciplinary rehabilitation and motor control exercise were also recommended.
As were acupuncture or mindfulness-based stress reduction methods. Spinal manipulation and low-level laser therapy were proposed as well. And these are just some of the potential initial treatments.
According to the ACP, these were shown to improve the low back pain symptoms. And they did so with low to no risks of harm. This latter is quite in contrast to the opioids-based method.
The country is facing an opioids crisis. Long-term or constant usage of prescription drugs has been seen to cause addiction. In some cases, it has also led to accidental overdoses.
Still, the ACP did draw attention to a fact related to the non-drug-based treatments. The chosen physical therapies should be administered by appropriately trained providers.
The group placed prescription drugs as a last resort solution. If the non-pharmaceutical methods fail to alleviate the back pain, they could try using an easier drug first. For example, patients could turn to an over-the-counter drug such as naproxen and ibuprofen. If even these fail, then the patient should seek medical attention from their physician.
More details about the ACP recommendations can be found in the new, official guideline. This was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
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