Slow, Safe Relief from Back Pain

May 22, 2017  |  no comments yet

Back pain requires patience to heal from. That’s because reaching first for quick “fixes” like drugs, surgery, and even medical imaging can end up delaying healing or, at worst, lead to more pain and worse problems, such as surgical side effects and opiate addiction.

In the June 27, 2017 issue of Consumer Reports, massage and other whole-person practices fare well against medical interventions:

In February the American College of Physicians—which represents primary care doctors, the providers people consult most often for a backache—issued new guidelines for back-pain treatment, saying that the first line of defense should be nondrug measures.

That advice is backed up by a new nationally representative Consumer Reports survey of 3,562 back-pain sufferers. It found that more than 80 percent of those who had tried yoga or tai chi or had seen a massage therapist or chiropractor said it had helped them.

From “The Better Way to Get Back Pain Relief:  Growing research suggests that drugs and surgery may not be the answer for your bad back

It’s understandable that someone suffering with back pain might call the doctor first. It’s essential to rule out conditions that require medical attention. Insurance might cover a doctor visit or even surgery, but probably not massage, tai chi, or acupuncture. A person whose life is affected by pain naturally would want to eliminate pain quickly, which medical interventions sometimes seem likelier to do than non-drug, non-surgical practices.

But back pain from the most common causes that send people to the doctor tends to heal slowly, over months and years. A sidebar to the article quoted above offers tips and guidelines for what to expect over time as the body mends. See “How to Recover From a Back Injury: A step-by-step guide.”

I wish we could offer a magic pill to cure back pain. Or anything.

What we can and do offer are gentle hands to help soothe what ails you.