Here at Moore Chiropractic, we pride ourselves on our focus of treating the issue, not the symptoms of the issue. We believe that treating the signals your body is giving you (symptoms) instead of getting to the bottom of why your body is responding that way can hinder it from healing properly. By treating your symptoms with medications, you are potentially adding even more symptoms or side effects of whatever you are taking. For example, with acute back pain, you may have spent a little extra time gardening or slept wrong and you have a sore back. Your body will utilize inflammation and will tighten up the muscles around the area to protect from further trauma. When you go take anti-inflammatories or painkillers, you are working against your bodies’ natural process of healing. You may feel looser and be in less pain, but you are raising the risk of worsening or at least extending the issue because you’re feeling “fixed” and as if your back is ready for normal activity again. So basically, what you’re doing with anti-inflammatories is trying to tell your brain that your back is ok, while your body is trying to tell the brain that it is not.
Now, doing nothing is not what we suggest when we say don’t rely on medications for acute back pain. We understand that life doesn’t stop when you hurt your back. When you have acute back pain, your body will eventually naturally adjust and the pain should recede in time. We believe that naturally assisting the body in it’s healing process is the best method to treat the issues causing pain. Luckily, the American College of Physicians has new guidelines that agree with our mindset and recommend exercise, yoga or massage therapy over medications as their recommended methods for treating acute back pain.
After reviewing more than 150 different studies and reviewing results, the ACP decided that techniques that speed up the natural healing process are more effective and safer than utilizing medications. The new guidelines suggest things like spinal manipulation adjustments, massage therapy and acupuncture that can “relax the muscles, joints, and tendons so people can be relieved of their low back pain sooner, rather than later.”
Primary care doctor Steven Atlas, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School who practices at Massachusetts General Hospital, wrote an editorial accompanying the guidelines. He describes them as a needed change. “We are moving away from simple fixes like a pill to a more complex view that involves a lot of lifestyle changes,” he says.
With such a prominent opioid issue present, this shift in thinking from the ACP can hopefully guide more of the medical world to consider these kinds of treatments as early alternatives to medication for acute back pain.