Most who suffer from chronic or recurrent low back pain are very familiar with the treatments conventional medicine offers. Pharmaceuticals, or medications, are common. Since inflammation is the final common pathway for so much low back pain (see below), we often choose anti-inflammatory drugs, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (Advil, ibuprofen, aspirin) and occasionally steroids (especially in acute disk herniation). Medicines that block the pain signals at the brain, such as narcotics and tramadol, also are helpful. Muscle relaxants have long been controversial; they travel to the central nervous system (spinal cord and brain) and produce a strong sedative effect. Likely, they help healing and recovery from an acute spasm by inducing rest.
Manipulations are also common in western medicine. Chiropractic care, gentle manipulation of the spine, can relieve chronic and acute low back pain by initiating spinal realignment. Proper alignment permits the back and spine can handle use and weight. Physical therapy, especially for sprains, strains, herniated disks and some types of degeneration also improves and maintains proper spinal alignment and back/core muscle strength. Massage, cranio-sacral, Reiki, Feldenchris and other hands on modalities also play a strong role in relaxing muscles, improving aligment and decreasing pain.
1 Anderssen GBJ. Frymoyer JW (ed.). The epidemiology of spinal disorders, in The Adult Spine: Principles and Practice. New York: Raven Press; 1997:93-141.
2 Cunningham LS, Kelsey JL. Epidemiology of musculoskeletal impairments and associated disability. Am J Public Health. Jun 1984;74(6):574-9. [Medline].
3 National Center for Health Statistics (1977):. Limitations of activity due to chronic conditions, United States. Series 10, No.111. 1974..
4 National Center for Health Statistics (1975):. Physician visits, volume and interval since last visit, United States. 1971. Series 10, No.97.
5 Nachemson Al, Waddell G, Norland AL. Nachemson AL, Jonsson E (eds.). Epidemiology of Neck and Low Back Pain, in. Neck and Back Pain: The scientific evidence of causes, diagnoses, and treatment. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:165-187.
6 Mayer TG, Gatchel RJ. Functional restoration for spinal disorders: The sports medicine approach. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger; 1988.
7 Biering-Sorenson F. Low back trouble and a general population of 30-, 40-, 50-, and 60–year-old men and women. Dan Med Bull. 1982;29:289-99.
8 Damkot DK, Pope MH, Lord J, Frymoyer JW. The relationship between work history, work environment and low-back pain in men. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). May-Jun 1984;9(4):395-9. [Medline].
Helms: “Acupuncture Energetics”, Chirali: “Traditional Chinese Medicine cupping therapy”. Travell & Simmons: “Trigger point”. Macciocia: “foundations of chinese med, “Essentials of Musk Care”