Spinal manipulation endorsed as ‘best practice’ for back pain.

 

What do you do when you have back pain? Reach for a painkiller or have some kind of “treatment” to help relieve your pain?

We are as a nation (and worldwide in-fact!) reaching for the pain killers for musculoskeletal aches and pains more and more but it turns out our “quick fix” may not be the best course of action.

Recently the American Medical Association endorsed Spinal Manipulation as ‘best practice’ for back pain in the wake of what they are calling an Opioid Epidemic. Basically we’re reaching for the pain killers far too often which is having many negative side effects. Now, in the light of the research that exists on the effective treatment of back pain the word to American GP’s from their association when seeing patients with uncomplicated back pain is basically to refer for treatment such as ‘spinal manipulation’ before prescribing pain killers.

In Australia, 1 in 6 people will suffer from back pain. Back pain is the 3rd leading disease burden in Australia with an estimated cost of over $9 Billion per year.

The majority of sufferers will consult their GP seeking care in the first instance with half being prescribed medication as a first line treatment.

In the past 5 years, prescription of pain relieving medication has increased from 5 million to 7 million prescriptions. Paracetamol is the 4th most prescribed drug in Australia.

The number of deaths from prescription pain medications – opioids – has increased 61% between 2004 – 2014.

58% of non–cancer pain medication prescriptions are for musculoskeletal issues

The founder of Osteopathy, American Physician Dr Andrew Still, became disillusioned with the effectiveness of the medicines available to him in the 1800’s and developed an approach to health care to circumvent or at least complement drug prescription.

Over a century later, after a relentless campaign to discredit the ‘hands on’ approach that Dr Still popularised, the American Medical Association has finally agreed with him and revised their best practice guidelines for managing back pain, endorsing spinal manipulation, massage and heat as first line treatments before medication is prescribed.

These recommendations are welcomed by Brisbane based Osteopath, Dr Giulian Di Venuto, who said ‘there seems to have been a ‘turf war’ for the back pain patient for a long time. Osteopaths have been advocating the use of spinal manipulation, massage, heat and exercise to help people with back pain since the 1800’s. It is good that the evidence base for what we do is starting to catch up and that eminent leaders in health care, such as the American Medical Association, are recommending with confidence that we are amongst the best people to assess and treat musculoskeletal pain such as back pain in the first instance.’

Osteopath, Dr. Di Venuto advises that most cases of back pain resolve within 6 weeks and whilst pain can be sever at times, it is best to try and keep moving.

‘People are vulnerable when they are in pain. They are often anxious and scared and believe that their pain will persist. I agree with drug therapy and the role it plays in pain medicine, but it is more important than ever that patients are referred to the most appropriate people for examination and treatment because the ‘quick fix’ is not working.

Medication dependency is real and so are the side effects. When there is evidence for interventions that are better and safer than medication, they should be used in preference and that is what the AMA is also saying. Osteopaths, physiotherapists and chiropractors have been advocating for a long time now that therapies such as spinal manipulation, massage and exercise, should be preferred to medication in the short and long term treatment of back pain.’

 

Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists are University trained, registered health care professionals, regulated by government agency, the Australian Health Practitioners Registration Authority (AHPRA) and specifically trained to assess, diagnose and manage musculoskeletal issues such as back and neck pain. Osteopaths and Chiropractors are trained in spinal manipulation during their undergraduate university training.

If you are interested in seeking advice from a registered Osteopath, or you want to learn more about us you can learn more on our website or Osteopathy Australia.