Drugs don’t work for back pain according to study – so what’s the answer?

A new study has confirmed the danger in relying too much on drugs to treat back pain.

After treating many thousands of people with back pain over the years, we at Elite Akademy aren’t surprised. We often see people who are at their wit’s end after trying drugs without any improvement.

Rather than rush for drugs, it’s always best to locate back pain’s underlying cause by testing what you can and cannot do. Best results come from testing your biomechanics, range and quality of movement without any help from drugs.

Most effective long-term treatment involves hands-on physio methods such as correcting biomechanics, exercise, correct movement and massage.

The study, from Sydney-based The George Institute for Global Health, says that “commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat back pain provide little benefit, but cause side effects”.

The review has been published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, and reveals only “one in six patients treated with the pills, also known as NSAIDs, achieve any significant reduction in pain”.

According to the George Institute, earlier research has already demonstrated paracetamol is ineffective and opioids provide minimal benefit over placebo.

What then, is the answer to back pain? Unfortunately, there is no off-the-shelf solution. Everybody is different, and there are many different types and causes of back pain. A professional assessment is the best place to start.

The underlying cause may not be what you expect. It may be posture, it may be an injury, or it may be referred pain from a problem in your body elsewhere. Finding the underlying cause is not possible in a pill packet – it takes time and experience.

Once you know the underlying cause, the solution to easing the back pain will vary, but will centre around correcting biomechanics, massage, exercise and correct movement.

Back pain sufferers commonly restrict their movements – this is totally understandable, and it happens subconsciously. To move means pain, and sufferers gradually move less and less without even realising.

Unfortunately, restricting movement is the worst possible thing for your back. We are made to move, and this is no more important than with your back.

Recovery needs movement. Once you have found the underlying cause, the next important part of the assessment is to relieve and prevent pain. This will involve specific stretches and exercises that gradually increase your range of movement.

Many back pain sufferers find that once the pain is under control they benefit from continuing the exercises, and staying mobile. The activity becomes key to preventing further back pain.

So before rushing to use anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and aspirin next time you have back pain, think about the study and how ineffective these drugs are. Chances are a proper professional assessment will provide more sustained relief, and possibly even a life without back pain.


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