You know what I’m talking about, right? You know, that dull, achy feeling you have in your lower back when you try to do more than you should! Or, how about the chronic back pain you blame on your mattress? Whatever the cause, chronic low back pain (CLBP) is a pain and a recent study concluded that many of the therapies commonly used to treat CLBP lack strong evidence to support that they are effective, shocking!
Let’s talk about the different treatment modalities available. Sure, the first thing your primary care doc says is, anti-inflammatory medications, maybe a muscle relaxer, spinal x-ray, and a return visit in 2 weeks. For many acute, lower back injuries, this treatment works! But what if it doesn’t? The next route might be physical therapy, yoga, acupuncture, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), pain management and possibly an MRI. The good news is that small to moderate improvements were seen with these non-invasive treatments.
If there is no success, many patients resort to having lumbar decompression and fusion surgery. The good news? These invasive procedures result in improvements in pain, disability, and function for up to 4 years post-surgery. The bad news, the improvements declined after 4 years, gradually to the level of the non-surgical patients. At the end of the day, we need to take care of our backs, respect how important a healthy back is to our quality of life, rest when tired, don’t ignore the early, nagging signs of trouble and above all, get medical advice earlier rather than later!
Stay the course, stay informed, and stay well!