Back pain is a major cause of disability and controlling pain is a key to reducing its debilitating effects. Research suggests that pain relief should be available for both short- and long-term conditions. Painkillers such as acetaminophen and NSAIDS are widely used and generally safe for the short term but may not be very effective. Opioid painkillers can be addictive and cause more problems than they solve. New medications are needed. Alternatives to painkillers include physical therapy, acupuncture and electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy.
- Back pain is a symptom, not a disease, and there are numerous causes for it. Different causes should mean different treatments, but the cause may be unknown or poorly understood.
- A common concern is what to give to reduce the pain, both short-term and long-term. It should be effective, not harmful and, ideally, not addicting.
- Physical therapy is always part of treatment. Acupuncture has no negatives, and it does help some people.
“Physical therapy is always part of treatment. Acupuncture has no negatives, and it does help some people. Electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) has been used for years but remains controversial.”