What to do when you have an acute episode of back pain
Last week, we posted a link to a news release from Excellus on back pain management. Excellus has analyzed information on back pain treatment in upstate New York over the course of the past several years. Some of the findings are alarming, particularly the increased utilization of medications and surgery to treat what really amounts to a normal aspect of life. Yes, back pain is a normal part of our life experience. Most of us by far will experience at least one episode of back pain in our lives.
The vast majority of people that experience back pain will recover with either self-care or conservative care like physical therapy. A very small percentage will benefit from surgery – yet surgery accounts for a disproportionate percentage of the costs associated with medical management of back pain.
While simple, over-the-counter pain medication can help ease back pain in the short term, overutilization of prescription medications like Opioids can actually be harmful. In fact, the rise in the number of prescriptions for Opioid medication has been identified as a key factor in the rise in illicit drug use and drug-related deaths. While these medications are beneficial in the management of post-surgical pain, they are not necessary for managing non-specific back pain.
In the absence of a serious, underlying condition, acute back pain is best managed through activity modification, finding positions of comfort, and heat. Maintaining activity, with some modifications, is strongly recommended. Controlled movement will actually enhance healing. Your physical therapist can help you find safe ways to move. Other physical therapy interventions can also help you recover faster.
Marcia Miller Spoto PT, DC, OCS
In case you missed it, here is a link to the Excellus article:
More people are undergoing surgery and taking opiates to treat back pain