Pain Management

Ease Low Back Pain with Drug-Free Options

The next time you go to your doctor for low back paindon’t be surprised to leave with a “prescription” for a massage or yoga instead of pain pills. Guidelines from the American College of Physicians recommend trying drug-free strategies first.

The guidelines say you should start with the safest treatment options—and that means nondrug approaches. They have a lower risk of side effects than medications.

Work with your doctor to find the best pain-control strategy for you. Studies show that these approaches can ease some types of acute or subacute low back pain:

  • Heat and ice therapy at certain times of the injury
  • Stretching
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Spinal manipulation (by a health professional)

Before taking medicines, patients with chronic low back pain should try other treatments, including:

  • Rehabilitation therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction
  • Tai chi
  • Motor control exercise
  • Electromyography biofeedback
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Spinal manipulation

If drug-free approaches don’t bring enough relief, talk with your doctor. Medication options include ibuprofen and muscle relaxants. Opioid pain relievers have serious risks, including side effects and addiction. The guidelines say they should be considered only as a last resort.


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