American College of Physicians provides new guidelines for addressing low back pain
It might start as a dull ache or a quick pinch, perhaps after a slip on a wet floor or lifting a heavy box. A sudden onset of low back pain can range anywhere from temporary nuisance to constant discomfort, and it impacts millions of Americans every year.
The American College of Physicians recently updated their guidelines for treating this sudden – or acute, as your doctor will call it – low back pain, and included an increased reliance on non-traditional courses of treatment, with prescription drugs as a last resort for more stubborn pain.
In fact, their evidence-backed recommendations center on non-invasive methods of combatting acute low back pain, which often resolves with the passage of time and continuation of physical activity. Under the guidance of their primary care physician, acute low back pain sufferers should first treat their symptoms using a combination of superficial heat, and even massage or acupuncture and chiropractic care. If the pain is interfering with daily life, then non-prescription anti-inflammatory drugs are in order.
If these primary solutions don’t resolve the issue, continuing with exercise (such as yoga), stress-reduction techniques (such as meditation and progressive relaxation), and physical therapy, is recommended. Only after these methods have been exhausted should stronger drugs, or more invasive treatments, be considered.
The overriding message is that previously popular solutions, including prescription pain-killers, aren’t as effective as previously thought and that most acute low back pain will resolve on its own. What’s more, the revised recommendations emphasize solutions that don’t carry the potential risks and side effects of prescription drugs.
But how do you know when it’s time to call your doctor? While most low back pain problems will solve themselves, there are times when a visit to your physician is warranted. For instance, you should ask yourself:
- Was the pain triggered by an accident? If so, there might be physical damage that needs to be addressed before the pain will reside.
- Is the pain accompanied by any other symptoms? That could be sign of an underlying condition that needs to be diagnosed.
- Does the pain radiate down the legs? That could be a sign that nerves near the spine are compressed, which will need to be resolved in order to avoid damaging the nerves.
Has the pain interfered with daily life for longer than a few months? When low back pain doesn’t dissipate after three months, it’s time to seek a specialist’s advice and more comprehensive treatment options.
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We offer exceptional care and treatment options for a wide range of spinal and neurological disorders, which affect the brain, spine, nerves, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. If you are experiencing lower back pain, please give us a call to setup an appointment.