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Anti-inflammatory medications, the panacea for back pain?

Published on October 21, 2014 at 14:41 / Updated on July 25, 2019 at 14:21

Back pain is a frequent and incapacitating problem for a lot of people. As individuals plagued by back pain want to be rid of it as quickly as possible, they are quite keen to try various approaches to relieve their misery. The results of a recent Australian study reinforce the idea that simple treatments, acetaminophen and gentle physical activity, are the best therapies to treat most acute back pain.

The study, published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, examined 240 people who suffered from back pain. The results reveal that the use of anti-inflammatory medications and spinal manipulations are useless for a great majority of patients. In spite of this, both treatments are still recommended in several countries’ guidelines for the treatment back pain.

During the study, Australian physicians recommended that all of their patients take acetaminophen, a very safe analgesic with only rare adverse effects, to relieve their pain. They also advised their patients to maintain their regular activities as much as possible, and to avoid bed rest. Researchers assigned patients to receive either an anti-inflammatory medication called diclofenac or a placebo, in combination with either a real spinal manipulation or a fake manipulative therapy.

The results showed there was no actual difference in the recovery times of either group of treatments. By the end of the study, nearly all of the patients had recovered, regardless of the treatment they had received.

Therefore, this study suggests that simple measures – acetaminophen for pain and staying active – are actually the best options as primary treatment for the majority of people suffering from acute back pain. Although equally effective, taking anti-inflammatory medication and receiving spinal manipulative therapy can have adverse effects, and they are much more expensive.

Previous studies have also demonstrated that applying heat and cold to the back is a quick and easy way to alleviate pain. A physiotherapist can also teach you specific exercises to help increase your flexibility and better your posture, as well as reinforce your abdominal and back muscles when the pain lessens. Doing these exercises punctiliously will help prevent relapses. Maintaining a healthy body weight along with being physically active regularly will make your back strong and healthy. A strong and healthy back greatly contributes in keeping back pain at bay. Is your back at risk?

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