Doctors Orders: Alternative Therapies for Low Back Pain


The billl for low back pain in the United States is an estimated $100 billion for associated costs including loss of wages and productivity. But low back pain can be helped with the use of alternative therapies, according to clinical guidelines published by the American College of Physicians in the February 2017 Annals of Internal Medicine.

Alternative Therapy

While many individuals get by taking medication, it is often associated with small short-term improvement with some risks of side effects. In fact, the ACP recommends nonpharmacologic treatments as the first methods of therapy to improve pain and function.

These include:   

  • Acupuncture,
  • Massage,
  • Spinal manipulation,
  • Superficial heat,
  • Low-level laser therapy,
  • Pilates,
  • Tai chi,
  • Yoga, and
  • Psychological therapies, including mindfulness-based stress reduction.

Researchers added that nonpharmacologic treatments had very little negative side effects, if any at all, compared to several risk factors with traditional medication, such as NSAIDS.

These guidelines vary slightly from the previous American College of Physicians’ (ACP) 2007 guidelines, which stated that acetaminophen was effective for acute low back pain versus other analgesics.

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