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Why Medicine is not the answer for the vast majority of Back Pain cases

Updated: Sep 8

If you’re over-50 with a painful problem and live in the Derbyshire area, you can learn more about how Dan Smith at The Shiatsu Bus Mobile Back Pain Clinic can help you overcome a painful problem here: https://www.theshiatsubus.co.uk/landing-page-phone-consultation


Lower back pain, the scourge of mankind: it is the second leading cause of disability here in the UK, and the fourth worldwide. It’s also one of the top five medical problems for which people see doctors. Every day that I see clients, I see someone with back pain. It’s one of the top reasons for lost income due to missed work so is an expensive problem!



Looking at two kinds of back pain

Let’s talk about the most common forms of back pain: acute (which lasts less than four weeks) and subacute (which lasts four to 12 weeks). Most of these cases (approximately 85%) are due to harmless causes and can be given a “Mechanical back pain” diagnosis, which includes muscle spasm, ligament strain, and arthritis.


A handful (3% to 4%) will be due to potentially more serious causes such as herniated discs (“bulging” discs), spondylolisthesis (“slipped” discs), a compression fracture of the vertebra due to osteoporosis (collapsed bone due to bone thinning), or spinal stenosis (squeezing of the spinal cord due to arthritis). Rarely, less than 1% of the time, will the pain be due to inflammation (such as ankylosing spondylitis), cancer (usually metastases), or infection.


But most of the time, we’re dealing with a relatively benign and yet really painful, disabling, and expensive condition.


Drugs are not part of the latest recommendations for treating “mechanical” back pain

What researchers have found is that for acute and subacute low back pain, the best and safest treatments are not medicines. The latest research into lower back pain gives the following strong recommendation:


'Most patients with acute or subacute low back pain improve over time regardless of treatment and can avoid potentially harmful and costly treatments and tests. First-line therapy should include nondrug therapy, such as superficial heat, massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation. When non-drug therapy fails, consider NSAIDs or skeletal muscle relaxants.'


Because most mechanical back pain improves over time, the emphasis appears to be not to prescribe treatment that can cause harm. Because some medications carry significant risks, the latest NICE guidelines don't recommend using these right off the bat. Rather, the advice includes guidance on heating pad or hot water bottle use, and recommendations or referrals to acupuncturists, massage therapists, and chiropractors. These therapies have been shown to be effective, and are very unlikely to cause harm so are a much better choice.


Even the nonprescription pain relievers are not risk free

Medicines like ibuprofen and naproxen can be helpful, but they can cause stomach inflammation and ulcers, as well as possible bleeding, and even kidney damage, especially in the elderly. Muscle relaxants can be sedating, and can interact with other common medications. Benzodiazepines and opiates not only can cause sedation, making it hard to think clearly and function normally, they are also addictive. Basically, for acute and subacute low back pain, the risks of these medications outweigh the benefits. Other medications, like acetaminophen, steroids, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications, have also been shown not to be significantly helpful for acute and subacute low back pain at all.


If you would like more information and tips for overcoming back pain then click on this link to Download your FREE 23 Page Back Pain Guide produced by The Shiatsu Bus Mobile Back Pain Clinic:




**Any information in this blog should not be used as a substitute for individual medical advice. Please seek advice from your local healthcare professional before taking action on the information in this article**




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