Most of us have experienced back pain of some sort in our lives. Like other aches we experience, it makes sense to reach for pain pills at the first sign of pain. However, drugs such as over-the-counter pain medication may not be the most effective way of treating low back pain.
Rather, non-drug treatments such as heat, massage and acupuncture are gaining ground as being more beneficial than drugs such as acetaminophen.
No Drugs for Chronic Low Back Pain
Chronic low back pain is one of the top reasons people go to visit their doctor. In the past, many doctors recommended a few days of bed rest alongside an over-the-counter pain medication such as Tylenol.
However, the effectiveness at acetaminophen-based medications such as Tylenol along with some other medications often prescribed for chronic back pain has been called into question recently in a clinical guideline published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
According to the clinical guideline, drug therapy should be avoided as a first step for treating long-term low back pain. Superficial heat, such as a from a heating pad, is recommended alongside massage and acupuncture for treating low back pain.
Long-Term Relief for Low Back Pain
Physical therapy and stress reduction are both important components of managing low back pain. Because of this, many doctors recommend activities such as yoga and tai chi which focus on strengthening both the body and the mind.
In cases where back pain persists despite physical therapy or other non-drug therapy, doctors may consider recommending or prescribing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain. Pain management using opioids is considered only when all other treatments have been found to not work.