The American College of Physicians released new guidelines on Monday, February 13th, suggest that people who experience lower back pain should try other options before going straight to opioid drugs. They suggest that acupuncture, yoga, mindful meditation, and tai chi should be incredibly effective.
Doctors say that people usually go straight to taking medication because they think it is an effective and quick way to combat pain. However, the studies suggest that drug-free therapies should be recommended instead of drugs.
Lower back pain is classified among the most common ailments that people in the United States visit their doctors for. This is another reason for treatments that do not involve drugs. Physicians usually recommend strong painkillers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, just as a last resort.
Also, the new guidelines bring some changes. If patients need medication after all, they should no longer be prescribed Tylenol or acetaminophen. Dr. Nitin Damle, the ACP President, undertook a research where he discovered that acetaminophen was not effective anymore in combating lower back pain.
He also revealed that people who suffer from short-term back pain could treat it just by using heat or minor changes in their physical activity. This type of pain, called non-specific pain, is the one that has no determined cause and is usually temporary.
It is different from the “radical” back pain, that is usually caused by a compressed spinal nerve or a herniated disc. This pain is so strong that it radiates down on the leg or it may cause numbness and weakness of the limbs.
Thus, if you have been experiencing lower back pain for less than 12 weeks, the new guidelines advise you to use massage, acupuncture, spinal manipulation, or heat wraps as treatment. They might be effective in moderately relieving the pain.
If the pain lasts for more than 13 weeks, the guidelines recommend yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, stress reduction techniques based on mindful meditation, and cognitive behavior therapy.
If the pain does not go away, non-steroidal medication is recommended, such as naproxen, ibuprofen, and muscle relaxants. The next step suggests tramadol and duloxetine, which can act as pain relievers for a short term.
Anyway, researchers and physicians insist that opioid drugs should be prescribed only as an extreme measure and should be taken only for a few days. However, short-term lower back pain can be treated more naturally, without having to resort to painkillers.
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