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Research Calls for Conservative Treatments Before Painkillers for Low-Back Pain

Arlington, Va. – The American Chiropractic Association (ACA), in response to recent research calling into question the efficacy of acetaminophen in the management of spinal pain, strongly encourages patients and healthcare providers to consider the benefits of a conservative approach to back pain. According to the British Medical Journal study, the widely used painkiller is ineffective against low-back pain and offers only "minimal short-term benefit" for people with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. Similar conclusions were reached in a study published in The Lancet in July 2014, that acetaminophen "does not ease low-back pain."
 
"People need complete information about their treatment options," said ACA President Anthony Hamm, DC. "Research supports the use of more conservative treatments as a first-line defense against pain. This sensible approach not only reduces healthcare costs, but may also help some patients avoid riskier treatments altogether."
 
A "conservative care first" approach to health care encourages emphasis on more cost-effective and safer approaches over potentially addictive medications for pain management and health enhancement. Conservative management of painful conditions may include chiropractic manipulation combined with exercise and stretching prior to moving on to high-risk procedures. Chiropractic physicians are the highest-rated healthcare practitioners for low-back pain treatments due to their patient-centered, whole-person approach that provides greater interaction and communication for appropriate diagnosis and development of more cost-effective treatment plans.
 
"There are effective, more conservative treatments that help many patients lessen reliance on addictive painkillers and get back to their normal lives and activities," said Dr. Hamm. "The services provided by chiropractic physicians are not only clinically effective but also cost-effective, so taking a more conservative approach at the onset of low-back pain can also potentially save both patients and the healthcare system money down the line."
 
Numerous recent studies have clearly shown the dangerous overreliance in the United States on prescription painkillers. This has tremendously increased Americans’ risk for overuse, and abuse of these drugs if taken for long periods, leading to more than 17,000 related deaths in 2010 (more than heroin and cocaine combined). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the abuse of prescription pain medications an "epidemic."

Author: American Chiropractic Association
Source: Acatoday.org, online April 10, 2015.