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The Do’s and Don’ts of Lower Back Pain

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Read the latest on lower back pain and ibuprofen

Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints with over 80% of people suffering this at some point in their lives. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Most minor mechanical back pain is caused by repetitive use, bending poorly and lifting heavy objects. Pain will resolve within a few weeks if the causes are avoided or addressed. Almost half of back pain sufferers will see a recurrence of their pain within a year and for some, the pain can last many years with intermittent periods of recurrence.

Most patients with back pain are prescribed some form of painkiller or anti-inflammatory. Growing evidence shows that there is no effective drug for this problem and that the only way to treat it, is by doing specific exercises and stretches.

Often common painkillers like ibuprofen are prescribed for low back pain. Doctors have warned that this can do more harm than good for lower back pain. A major review done by Australian researchers (published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases) found that only 1 patient in 6 treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) achieved any significant reduction in their pain. This small benefit was outweighed by side effects which can include gastro-intestinal problems, particularly if the drug is taken for long periods. Recent research has found that acetaminophen is ineffective against low back pain and more powerful opioid painkillers are both ineffective and dangerous.


Only Short-term Pain Relief for Lower Back Pain

The Australian study, led by Professor Manuela Ferreira, of the George Institute for Global Health at Sydney University, said that the results showed that anti-inflammatories provide very limited short-term pain relief. They examined the results of 35 trials involving more than 6000 people and found that patients taking anti-inflammatories were 2.5 times more likely to suffer from gastro-intestinal problems such as stomach ulcers and bleeding.

Co-author Gustavo Machado said that there is a need for treatments that will actually provide substantial relief. He said that there should be a stronger focus on preventing back pain and that it is well known that education and exercise programmes can substantially reduce the risk of developing low back pain.

Professor Phil Conaghan, an expert in musculoskeletal medicine at Leeds University and spokesman for Arthritis UK said “This work highlights what we have learned for many joint pain problems: staying strong and keeping moving remain critical. But we should be cautious about applying this message to all back pain problems”. 

*the above is courtesy of The Daily Mail, UK

Given the importance of exercises, education, and prevention for lower back pain, seeing a physiotherapist to guide you through this process is crucial. Our physiotherapists at Brentwood Physiotherapy Clinic will thoroughly assess you, educate you on prevention and ergonomics and provide you with a personal exercise regime.

So don’t wait. Call us to book your appointment!

 

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