Exercise Still Best For Lower Back Pain
Exercise and education remain the best cure for back pain, according to researchers from Australia and Brazil. Despite this, health care professionals still prescribe expensive gadgets and procedures instead of good old fashioned physical activity.
Back pain afflicts people all over the world indiscriminately. Statistics shows that 80 percent of all people will be struck by some form of lower back pain at a point in their life., and whether the pain is acute or chronic, chances are, they will often reoccur.
According to a new study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal on Monday, researchers from Australia and Brazil said that the most effective cure for back pain is still good, old-fashioned exercise and education on proper posture and causes of back pain. Yet surprisingly, exercise is often not prescribed by health care professionals, who instead rely on injectables or expensive gadgets that do not address the cause of the problem.
The study showed that it doesn't even matter what form of exercises patients did – cardio, weights, aerobics, stretching, battle ropes – as long as a back pain sufferers got up and started moving, they were already on the right path to easing their problem.
The problem however, according to Dr. Tim Carey, who wrote an editorial commentary to accompany the study, is that exercise isn't prescribed nearly enough. Instead, physicians, and the health industry in general, are telling their patients to get passive and sometimes expensive procedures like ultrasound or traction treatments on their back, or to wear back belts or orthotic insoles.
"Why are we not prescribing an inexpensive, effective treatment? Some of it is, I think, we don't think of exercise as being a treatment the way a tablet or a procedure or a physical therapy treatment might," said Carey.
Others, like Chris Maher, a physical therapist turned health researcher at the University of Sydney in Australia involved with the study, concur.
Maher believes that the health care industry does not view exercise as a profitable product so innovations in pills and drugs are given more importance than physical activity as a cure.
A caveat to the findings of the study exists though. According to the researchers, even though the immediate benefits of exercise for back pain is apparent, they still do not have data on if the effects of exercise will keep back pain at bay beyond a year.
Nevertheless, Maher reminds that people must look at what they know for sure about the back: "What we do understand about the back is that the more you use it, the more likely you are to keep it strong, fit and healthy,” he said.