If you’re one of the millions of people across the globe who experience occasional or chronic back pain, you’ll be very interested in a new study published in the esteemed journal Lancet. The report expressed concern that many people around the world aren’t getting proper treatment for back pain. And what does the co-author conclude proper treatment is? According to Doug Gross, a professor of physical therapy at the University of Alberta, it’s regular movement and exercise.
This is exactly what most experienced spine surgeons in the United States say as well. The general consensus is that barring an obvious injury or dramatic deterioration, the most effective treatment is conservative treatment. It’s why whenever appropriate we start with a combination of physical therapy and exercise and medication.
Unfortunately, many people respond to back pain is by doing the exact opposite. They retreat to their bed and physicians without expertise prescribe pain medications, and those two treatments can actually make the situation worse. Gross says that he understands why people respond in this way. “We tend to view back pain as something serious.”
Gross says that when we experience pain we stop our activities, and the more that happens the more we lose confidence. Instead, he says, we need to trust that we will get better and not cower in our beds in fear, especially since there is evidence that movement can help to prevent our pain. “One of the biggest things that is associated with the development of back pain is a physically inactive lifestyle.”
Though for every day aches and pains, a specially designed exercise program is probably not necessary. Simple movements and stretches are likely to serve. However, for people who have suffered herniated discs or other cervical or lumbar spine issues, it is important that the program is one that patients can not only stick to but which will provide them with pain relief and prevention from future problems.
There is much to be gained from learning appropriate stretches, improving posture, and from strengthening the core, both areas that our spine specialty practice focuses on.
The article in the Lancet by no means indicates that minimally invasive surgery, injections, and other protocols are unnecessary: rather, they need to be used appropriately, with conservative approaches attempted first where appropriate.
Where patients have injured themselves, where pain is worsening or where symptoms of sciatica, numbness, tingling and weakness are present, it is essential that patients seek medical help from an experienced spine specialist who will be able to properly diagnose their condition and provide them with the most immediate and long-lasting pain relief.
If you have been experiencing back pain and have been masking it with pain medication or retreating to your sofa, it is time to do something about it. Contact our spine specialty practice today to make an appointment for a consultation.