Low back pain is one of the most common reasons for which people in the US visit the doctor. The American College of Physicians released new guidelines this month advising people to use drug-free options before they use more invasive treatments.
These new guidelines recommend people to treat their low back pain with drug-free options instead of going directly on painkillers. These recommendations were made due to the opioid problem that has hit the United States in the last year.
Doctors have decided to advise people to start with less invasive options like massages and exercise before they take painkillers. This is a new attempt to make people quit painkillers because they are addictive and people can overdose on them.
Specialists mentioned that opioid painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin should be the last resort because they are dangerous drugs that can lead to addiction in a short period of time. Doctors initially recommend drug-free options that include heat wraps and physical therapy. They mentioned that these options are less invasive than any drug.
There are some other changes in these new guidelines. The American College of Physicians (ACP) does not recommend Tylenol when medication is needed. This is because some recent studies showed that this drug is not as effective for low back pain as it was previously believed.
Dr. Nitin Damle, the president of the ACP, mentioned that these drug-free options have shown a lot of potential, especially for short-term “nonspecific” back pain. Dr. Damle mentioned that this “nonspecific” pain is that kind of pain that you feel and that you are not sure what you did to cause it. He also mentioned that it is a lot different from the “radicular” low back pain that is caused by the compression of spinal nerves.
The ACP recommends people that have short-term low back pain to stick to the drug-free options. Even those who suffer from radicular pain can be helped by these nondrug options because they can alleviate the pain. When medication is necessary the new guidelines recommend drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen as well as muscle relaxants.
The doctors mentioned that only when the pain persists after taking ibuprofen or naproxen people should try duloxetine. These new guidelines state that only in very rare cases opioid painkillers are recommended because these drugs can affect functions in the short term and can cause addiction.
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