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While lower back pain is one of the leading causes for physician visits in the U.S., mainstream medicine has finally admitted they’ve been treating it incorrectly…
That’s because drug therapy — historically their first-line treatment option — has done nothing to curtail the problem.
This is according to new guidelines drafted by The American College of Physicians (ACP) who, as I and other holistic wellness advocates have been saying for decades, agree that meds should be a last-resort treatment.
What do they recommend? Some tried-and-true natural solutions for lower back pain that health practitioners like myself have been using for decades.
Lifting the heavy burden of lower back pain
In 2013, The Lancet published a study titled, “The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010.” It detailed how and where in the world major diseases, injuries and health risk factors were most prevalent.
The Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases published a review and analysis of the Global Burden data. They found that worldwide, out of the nearly 300 conditions studied, low back pain (LBP) is the leading cause of disability and ranks as sixth in terms of overall disability burden. The study concluded:
“LBP causes more global disability than any other condition. With the ageing (sic) population, there is an urgent need for further research to better understand LBP across different settings.”
Now that the over-used over-the-counter NSAIDS and addictive prescription pain-killers have been put on the backburner, effective natural therapeutic solutions for low back pain relief can come to the forefront.
This is a huge step… because these very treatments that have dismissed by the medical establishment will now be recommended as the first line for self-care and patients in clinical settings.
The ACP based their new guidelines after conducting a systematic review of randomized, controlled trials and systematic reviews published through April 2015 on non-invasive drug therapies and non-drug treatments for lower back pain. Treatment outcomes were based on reduction, elimination or improvement of low back pain and low back function generally leading to reduction in disability and ability to resume work and activities.
As new clinical guidelines, the ACP offers the following 3 recommendations.
1st Recommendation suggests that best results for acute and sub-acute lower back pain will be to treat with heat, massage, and acupuncture.
2nd Recommendation suggests that patients with chronic low back pain should first seek a multi-pronged natural approach employing exercise, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction, tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise, progressive relaxation, biofeedback, and other similar therapy modalities.
3rd Recommendation suggests that for those suffering chronic low back pain that have gone exhausted the above mentioned recommendations with an inadequate response, “clinicians and patients should consider pharmacologic treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as first-line therapy, or tramadol or duloxetine as second-line therapy. Clinicians should only consider opioids as an option in patients who have failed the aforementioned treatments and only if the potential benefits outweigh the risks for individual patients and after a discussion of known risks and realistic benefits with patients.” The ACP has given this third recommendation as a “weak recommendation.”
Employing a holistic approach
If you have read my articles you know that I am an advocate for holistic wellness, especially in the realm of pain relief. This includes things you can do on your own for yourself and therapies that need involve a practitioner of various natural therapy modalities. Let’s review some areas that you can address to help reduce, resolve and prevent low back pain.
Mind-Body Connection – The mind plays such a huge role in how the body responds to external issues related to work, relationships, money, family and so on and holds these stressors in the musculature of the body. This creates muscle tension, trigger points, limited range of motion, reduce oxygen and nutrients moving through the tissue, and causes pain. Many don’t realize that psychological stress, emotional upset, repressed anger and rage, all get “locked” in the body and restrict its normal biological and physiological functions, often creating physical pain issues that can become chronic and ruin lives. You can read more about this and its solutions in my 3-step plan for sustained pain relief.
Meditation for Stress Relief – One of the main causes of low back pain is stress and emotional upset. One of the best ways to reduce stress is my meditating. Recent research from Harvard shows that practicing meditation regularly for as little as eight weeks can cause beneficial physiological structural changes in the brain’s grey matter. This is important because most of the brain’s neural cell bodies are found within grey matter, which itself encompasses regions of the brain that effect sensory perception (sight and sound), muscle control, memory, emotions, auditory functions and how we make decisions and apply self-control. In other words, this is amazing proof of the power of meditation to positively affect almost every aspect of your wellbeing. You can read more about meditation and how to do it here.
Exercise is a great way to reduce lower back pain in several ways. First, it increases respiration and gets the blood and those “feel good” hormones moving through the body. It also helps rid the body of unwanted toxins and loosens and strengthens muscles. People may not realize that a pit belly or even a trim belly that is not toned can cause low back pain but not supporting the essential core. Here is a great video showing a simple core strengthening exercise.
Stretching – If you wake up with tight or painful low back and neck, or because of your work-related poor posture find them aching in the day, you can check out this video showing a few simple dynamic stretches to relieve the stiffness.
Yoga – Another great treatment for low back pain is yoga. There are so many terrific yoga poses that you can do to help loosen the lower back and hips and create a flexible spine. Have a look at these videos:
Taking a more mindful approach to low back pain, bringing it into the realm of self-treatment and natural solutions, offers harmless treatment solutions. And like the ACP study has shown, non-drug therapies should your first line choice in treating low back pain.
Editor’s note: Dr. Wiley has such a wealth of healing experience and advice for those in pain that he has written a book titled “Conquering the Pain.” It contains many of the therapies, and more, that The American College of Physicians now recommends to help you conquer pain without drugs. Get your copy today.