According to researchers the overuse of inappropriate tests and treatments such as imaging, opioids and surgery means patients with lower back pain are receiving inappropriate care with little evidence that it helps their condition.
The Lancet published three papers highlighting the mistreatment of patients.
The researchers found evidence that often the most beneficial approach is an educational one, encouraging patients to keep active and continue working rather than resting.
This is a worldwide problem with many patients going to emergency departments and ending up being given prescription strength painkillers that carry a risk of addiction, and/or referred for scans that may end in surgery.
One of the problems of back pain is the challenge of identifying an actual cause with most pain being termed ‘non-specific’. The researchers also highlighted evidence that both economic and psychological factors played an important role in the persistence of lower back pain.
Prof. Rachelle Buchbinder, one of the research authors said: “The majority of cases of low back pain respond to simple physical and psychological therapies that keep people active and enable them to stay at work ……often, however, it is more aggressive treatments of dubious benefit that are promoted and reimbursed.”
Many incidents of back low pain were short lived but recurring episodes were common with many patients experiencing a recurrence within a year of previous recovery.
The authors encourage health professionals to adopt a different approach by promoting the use of exercises that are evidence based rather than relying on interventions that may not offer any benefits.
Prof Martin Underwood, from Warwick University, one of the authors of The Lancet papers, said: “Our current treatment approaches are failing to reduce the burden of back pain disability.
“We need to change the way we approach back pain treatment in the UK and help low- and middle-income countries to avoid developing high-cost services of limited effectiveness.
“Quite a lot of people get exposed to high-tech medical and invasive procedures. There’s very little evidence base to support their use.”
The Lancet research highlighted the benefit of massage along with advice from healthcare professionals to stay active and exercise as being positive approaches in both acute and chronic back pain.
At Luck’s Yard Clinic we offer Massage with Rob Rusak and in April Alero Jenkins and Vanessa Adams will be joining the massage team.
Call our Reception team on 01483 527945 for further information.