I have enjoyed seeing the revelations around the effective management of back pain headlining the national papers today with titles such as;
‘Back Pain Care is Useless’ (The Times)
‘Lower Back Pain Being Treated Badly on a Global Scale’ (The Guardian)
‘Many Back Pain Patients Getting Wrong Care’ (BBC news)
This is not news to us in the physio world. We have been saying for a while that strong drugs, injections and surgery are not always the best course of action for back pain. The new discussed article in The Lancet advises that most back pain can be managed effectively through keeping active.
In most cases scans are inconclusive and so are not always necessary. Physiotherapists aim to treat the symptoms and NOT the scan. Research has shown that disc degeneration is present in more than 50% of individuals aged 30-39 years with no symptoms of back pain, with the incidence of degenerative disc findings increasing with age (Brinjiki et al., 2015; Am. J Neuroradiol.). Therefore, even if a scan shows disc degeneration, this might not be the cause of the pain. Scans can often be misleading and should not guide treatment. This is not to say that surgery and injections aren’t appropriate for some patients, just not all.
There is a large psychosocial component with back pain. Often I find the most helpful treatment I can give a back pain sufferer is confidence in themselves and their body by providing them with tools on how to learn to move normally again.
Normal movement is essential and once achieved is complemented fabulously by regular physical activity and exercise. This is now been backed up and supported by scientific research and I am chuffed to see the national papers sharing these findings with the wider public, in order to raise awareness.