New guidelines from American College of Physicians recommend massage, heat, tai chi and other natural remedies for lower back pain.
In an evidence-based clinical practice guideline published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the American College of Physicians recommends that physicians and patients should treat acute or subacute low back pain with non-drug therapies such as superficial heat, massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation.
For patients with chronic low back pain, ACP recommends that physicians and patients initially select non-drug therapy with exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction, tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise, progressive relaxation, electromyography biofeedback, low-level laser therapy, operant therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, or spinal manipulation.
“Physicians should avoid prescribing unnecessary tests and costly and potentially harmful drugs, especially narcotics, for these patients,” said Nitin S. Damle, president of the ACP.
The guideline says that physicians should only consider opioids as an option in patients who have failed the aforementioned treatments and only if the potential benefits outweigh the risks.
“Physicians should consider opioids as a last option for treatment and only in patients who have failed other therapies, as they are associated with substantial harms, including the risk of addiction or accidental overdose,” said Dr Damle.
The ACP’s clinical practice guidelines are developed through a rigorous process based on an extensive review of evidence, including randomised control trials and data from observational studies.
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