Low back pain is one of the most common reasons to see a doctor. Eight out of ten people will at some point in their lives suffer from significant low back pain. The total annual cost of low back pain in the US is more than $100 billion dollars. This figure includes the cost of treatment, lost productivity and wage loss.
Chiropractic is a safe and effective way to treat low back pain. Chiropractic spinal adjustments are effective for both acute and chronic low back pain. Conservative treatment should be the first approach to treating back pain. Treatments like chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture, exercise and massage therapy are inexpensive, safe and effective treatments for neck pain and back pain.
X-rays, CT scans and MRIs are not recommended for the initial evaluation of uncomplicated low back pain. They provide a lot of diagnostic information but rarely change the course of conservative treatment. If the patient does not respond to appropriate treatment, diagnostic tests should be ordered. In most cases back pain sufferers respond to conservative treatment and the expensive diagnostic tests are not necessary.The gross over prescription of opioids for low back pain has directly lead to an epidemic of opioid and heroin addictions. Opioids are very strong narcotic pain relievers that should only be used with severe pain but unfortunately they are often prescribed for mild to moderate pain. Many doctors fail to follow the guidelines developed for the use of opioids and this results in excessive use of medications that can be life threatening and frequently leads to addiction.
The Journal of the American Medical Association JAMA, 2013(16) stated that back surgery is usually not necessary unless other treatment like chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture and exercise have failed. The vast majority of back problems do not require surgery. Your doctor of chiropractic is highly trained in the treatment, examination and diagnosis of back pain. Estimates vary but it is general considered that less that 5 percent of back pain patients will ever need surgery. One study found that 17 percent of patient that are told they needed spinal surgery did not meet the minimum requirements that surgeons have developed as criteria for having back surgery. Conservative treatment should be tried first before drugs and surgery. If a doctor recommends back surgery, you should always seek a second opinion.