- Current research suggests that Physiotherapy is the most effective way of addressing low back pain and some painkillers may not be recommended for treating low back pain.
- Low back pain is a very common affliction seen around the world, and its prevalence is rising due to population growth and ageing. While many treatment methods are traditionally prescribed, exercise and manual therapy have proven to be the most effective.
Incidences of low back pain
Just like headaches or the flu, back pain is something that most, if not all of us will experience at some point in our lives. While back pain may not seem like much of a big deal, it is actually becoming a growing concern worldwide as the number of people suffering from low back pain increases each year due to population growth and ageing.
When the pain becomes too intense or persists for long periods, it can severely affect someone’s mental wellbeing or even their ability to complete day to day activities. In fact, low back pain is one of the most common reasons people leave their jobs or seek consultation with a general practitioner worldwide, showing just how much low back pain can impact the lives of people who have to live with it.
Generally, low back pain can be classified into acute and subacute based on the duration of the pain. While acute low back pain refers to pain that lasts for less than 6 weeks, subacute low back pain refers to pain that persists for 6 weeks to 3 months.
Treatment options for low back pain
With low back pain in Singapore is becoming such a common problem, especially due to our ageing population, now is a good time to look at some of the common treatments offered for low back pain.
For most patients, it may be impossible to identify a specific cause of their pain. However, low back pain can still be treated through methods that can reduce the intensity of the pain.
Traditionally, treatment methods for low back pain can be pharmacological or non-pharmacological. In other words, low back pain can either be treated with prescribed medication, or through other methods such as Physiotherapy.
Do painkillers and medication work for low back pain?
The types of medication that is often prescribed to treat low back pain may not all be equally effective. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that compared the effectiveness of various treatments for low back pain across more than 40 clinical trials and 8000 patients found that amongst the drugs used to treat low back pain, paracetamol, a commonly used painkiller that is sometimes prescribed to treat acute low back pain, actually does very little to reduce pain for patients.
Another type of medication often prescribed to address low back pain is opioids, which are effective at managing acute pain but can lead to adverse effects such as dizziness, constipation and nausea, as well as the risk of addiction at high doses. In fact, the authors of the study noted that opioids may not be the best treatment for low back pain because of the possible harm they might cause.
In comparison, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen can effectively reduce pain and disability caused by low back pain without causing severe side effects. Thus, these drugs are often recommended for dealing with low back pain.
Does Physiotherapy work for low back pain?
As for non-pharmacological treatments, the same study found that Physiotherapy techniques such as therapeutic exercises, heat wrap and manual therapy are the most effective and at reducing pain. It may include exercises for low back pain and a good dose of assurance and advice and education!
In fact, while painkillers can be good for reducing pain at the immediate term (1 week after being prescribed), manual therapy can keep the pain away for up to 1 month! Furthermore, unlike painkillers, non-pharmacological treatments carry little to no risk of negative side effects, so patients do not need to worry about dealing with new health problems on top of their back pain.
Consult a Physiotherapist for your low back pain!
With all this in mind, if you are looking for ways to effectively manage your low back pain, Physiotherapy should definitely be a treatment option for your low back pain! The evidence shows that not only can Physiotherapy reduce your pain in the long term, it can also do so without much added risk to your health.
Consulting a Physiotherapist on how to manage your low back pain also ensures that you will receive treatment that is tailored to your needs and preferences, which is important for making sure that your treatment is both safe and effective. After all, what works at reducing pain for someone else may not work as well for you, or may even cause you to injure yourself further!
Book now or give us a call to schedule an appointment to see our Physiotherapist who will be able to partner you on your journey of recovery and get relief from your low back pain!
Effectiveness of treatments for acute and subacute mechanical non-specific low back pain: a systematic review with network meta-analysis. Gianola S, Bargeri S, Del Castillo G, et al. Br J Sports Med 2022;56:41–50.