The American College of Physicians recommends Chiropractic Medicine, not pills, for lower back pain
Hello friends, I’m back with another post about chronic low back pain. Another?? Absolutely!
Chronic lower back pain is a problem that affects a lot of people - one in four Americans reports experiencing at least one day of lower back pain within just the last three months of their lives.
I’ve written in the past on this blog about how many folks who struggle with chronic back pain often turn to dangerous prescription painkillers to help. As a doctor who sees multiple patients with chronic back pain come through every day, it’s my experience that things like painkillers seldom do anything to alleviate the patient's’ suffering - in fact, they can make it worse! But as Americans, we’ve been trained to expect that there is a pill to fix everything that is wrong with our bodies.
But medical science is slowly catching onto the fact that this just isn’t true. Last month, the American College of Physicians released new guidelines for treating chronic lower back pain. They based their recommendations on extensive clinical trials. And what did those clinical trials tell them? Let’s see.
Taking a bunch of Tylenol for your pain? Not helpful! Tylenol, or acetaminophen as it’s known to doctors, doesn’t do any better than a sugar pill placebo for treating lower back pain. Also, taking a lot of Tylenol could be a bad idea since excessive doses can damage your liver. Opioid-based painkillers (like Oxycontin)? Really bad idea! Opioids are addictive and easy to overdose on, even when they are prescribed by your doctor. Worse, these painkillers have helped lead to the heroin epidemic that is sweeping America*!
So, if drugs are out, what did the ACP recommend to treat chronic lower back pain?
The American College of Physicians (ACP) recommends … that physicians and patients should treat acute or subacute low back pain with non-drug therapies such as superficial heat, massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation.
“Spinal manipulation” just means good old Chiropractic medicine, by the way. But hey, this is only the short list. What else did the ACP recommend for lower back pain?
…[E]xercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction, tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise (MCE), progressive relaxation, electromyography biofeedback, low-level laser therapy, operant therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or spinal manipulation.
I’ve seen patients have great results with everything the ACP recommends here. At Active Medical & Chiropractic we offer as many of the above treatments as we can fit under our roof! (Sadly, we don’t have a spot to fit an acupuncturist yet.)
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I’m a big booster for the healing power of exercise. ‘Exercise’ doesn’t have to mean doing jumping jacks or running a marathon! Tai chi and yoga are great forms of exercise, and hey, look - they’re on the ACP’s list!
Friends, the ACP acknowledges that right now, modern medicine just doesn’t have an instant ‘cure’ for chronic low back pain. Who knows? Maybe one day there will be a pill that just makes it all go away. My bet would be, though, that we will instead get better at using techniques like yoga, acupuncture, and chiropractic medicine to unlock the body’s natural healing properties.
If you are experiencing lower back pain and are interested in trying non-invasive, non-drug therapies like those that the ACP recommends in its new guidelines, come on into the office! We offer many of those therapies right now - and if we don’t, we know the people who do! We want to make sure you get the help and healing you need, whatever form that may take.
Yours in health,
Dr. Christopher B. Renne
Active Medical & Chiropractic
4111 Atlantic Boulevard
Jacksonville, Fl 32207
* For a real eye-opener about the epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse, check out the LA Times’ article ‘You want a description of hell?’ Oxycontin’s 12-hour problem.