Today’s newspaper reports on a study published this week online in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Internal Medicine. The study reviews 24,000 spine problem cases. Researchers found that doctors often prescribe narcotic painkillers when well-established guidelines for routine back pain recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy. The study also found an increase in premature use of CT and MRI scans when these tests often add little useful guidance to treatment plans.
It’s just human nature: even “routine” back pain can be very painful and motivate both patient and doctor to over medicate and over test. But even the medical establishment has confirmed that simpler is often better. Take this occurrence as a learning opportunity to consult your chiropractor, massage therapist, and/or physical therapist and personal trainer. Find out the likely cause of your discomfort, to get treatment that addresses the cause rather than masking the symptoms, and learn changes you can make to avoid future pain. These are often simple adjustments to your office sitting posture or sleeping posture, (beware slumpers and stomach sleepers!) or adding a few core strengthening exercises to your daily routine.
I have found that massage therapy working specifically with key core muscles like the psoas, the quadratus lumborum, the erector spinae, and the abdominal and gluteal muscles can help relieve many cases of acute and chronic back pain and even sciatica. The quadratus lumborum muscle is a classic culprit in low back spasms, and can act up with little warning and seemingly little provocation. Typical triggering events could be a few extra long days working at the computer, or twisting and lifting something as innocuous as a bag of groceries.
So instead of reaching for the oxycontin, call your massage therapist or chiropractor. Emergency appointments are often available. See my network page for practitioner referrals: My Network