Going to the doctor for back pain? Maybe NOT such a good idea for 80-90% of those with acute or sub-acute back pain.
You’ve maybe read my tweets or blog posts on the new approach to back pain relief promoted by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. People opting for this fast, simple 3-step program gain access to Physical Therapy early-on instead the outmoded “conventional medical approach” which tends to emphasize doctors, pain meds and x-rays or MRI’s.
In another large clinical study published in the journal Spine in 2009, a direct “pattern-recognition” identification play by the clinic gave up to 10.85 times the back pain relief success rate.
“10X” Pattern-Recognition Approach
That “new-wave” alternative back pain treatment is at the heart of the “10X” pattern-recognition approach I teach. (Watch the video above NOW)
“The group that received both the education and the physical exercise programme showed the greatest improvement in perceived health, and that patients with moderate symptoms benefitted most from exercise,” said Lena Nordeman, a registered physiotherapist and researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy.
Basic essential steps of the “10X” successful alternative are:
1) Rule out Red Flag causes of back pain;
2) Immediatedly categorize back pain based on “pattern-recognition;”
3) Proceed immediately to “pattern-specific” back pain treatment – which includes both exercise and other specific treatments that cut the need for pain-meds in half and hasten recovery.
I heard the back pain story of a former narcotics officer yesterday. Once he began relying primarily on Vicodin to relieve his lower back pain, it was less than a year before he was:
1) Off the police force having lost his job due to effects of the pills he was taking for better back pain control;
2) Hawking everything he owned to buy 30-50 pain pills a day to feed his habit which had just “got away from me!”
3) Spending most of every day waiting in 4-5 different doctor’s offices to get prescriptions for more;
4) He destroyed his marriage, his family savings and his kids’ college funds.
And that is not the worst – he very nearly became one of the 30,000 people who die from prescription drug overdoses every year! That’s right, visualize how much the news media would make of a 150-passenger airliner going down in flames daily for 6 months in a year?
Over 1-in-5 U.S. teenage students have abused prescription pain meds like the opium derivatives OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin and Norco.
Abuse and the development of tolerance are the two primary problems with our increase in long-term reliance on narcotics (and muscle-relaxers) for back pain control. Most of it needlessly.
Need a Better Back Pain Pill? Perhaps Try Nucynta…
One of the meds I’ve been using for a year or so (for my patients) is NUCYNTA® which called a mu-opioid agonist – that means it is a morphine-like drug.
Seems to work pretty well for moderate to severe pain. Indicated for “Acute pain” but is being tested and may have reasonable safety and a low rate of habituation in more chronic pain. I’d say it is of equivalent potency to Percocet® and it seems to work well for about two-thirds of my patients.
Also contains a Serotonin-Norepinephrine Re-Uptake Inhibitor (SNRI) – the two drugs combined are a good combo.
Nucynta Has Some Side-Effects…
I’ve seen a couple of cases of rash, some headaches and nausea – otherwise pretty benign. One person said: “Makes me feel kinda weird,” so stopped taking it. Compared to handfuls of Vicodin not a bad option.and is a Schedule II controlled substance. Patients receiving other mu-opioid agonist analgesics, general anesthetics, phenothiazines, other tranquilizers, sedatives, hypnotics, or other CNS depressants (including alcohol) concomitantly with NUCYNTA® may exhibit additive CNS depression. As always – “Buyer Beware!” and “Your mileage may vary.” So read the package insert and discuss this option with your own medical team before use.
You may be able to get a Trial prescription coupon for 10 pills – FREE – to see if it actually works for you.
If you don’t like feeling “muzzy-headed” and need a stronger pain med for a short-term solution – try it.
New research demonstrates that healthy discs require lifting to maintain the proper flow of nutrients. So exercise is what actually keeps discs healthy and happy.
If you STOP exercising and using your back, the discs deteriorate faster, potentially increasing your back pain. One more reason why the very best treatments for back pain involve strategic exercises to maintain more balanced and healthy function.
The clinical study results found in a recent paper on back pain from disc degeneration published in PLoS Computational Biology, cited researchers at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia. They reported that normal loading allows healthy transportation of nutrients and solutes into the disc tissues.
Degenerative disc changes appear to slow-down or block the transport of nutrients and oxygen into the discs. Movement and loading help the transport process.
Tip for Back Pain: Don’t do Nothing, Do Something – Exercise. And the best exercises for your low back pain? Pattern-recognition based exercises are up to 10.85 times more effective at cutting pain than the “usual medical approach” – pain pills, muscle relaxers, physical therapy/’feel-good’ treatments like ultrasound, electrical stim and traction machines.
Study from the U.K. reports that a 12-week basic yoga group training program improves back function more than exercise and manipulation, cognitive-behavior treatment and six sessions of 1-to-1 Alexander technique.
All of these simple, practical treatments are more effective than chiropractic treatment – and much less expensive. Prior research has supported education as one of the most important things you can do to get faster back pain relief.
Findings published in the November, 2011 Annals of Internal Medicine journal show that many people with chronic back pain could get effective pain relief – NOT with surgery or injection therapy – BUT with yoga. Check out the abstract at
Patients referred for neck disc surgery may easily be incorrectly diagnosed when the shoulder is the real culprit.
With sophisticated MRI scans for neck pain – How can this happen so often?
Simple. MRI scans are generally non-specific in findings. It’s a little known fact that MRI results do NOT show the cause of pain radiating down from the neck to the forearm.
Recent reports highlight the problem of shoulder arthritis and rotator cuff problems that look like a herniated disc in the cervical spine. If you get to the wrong doctor (one with “nothing scheduled on Tuesday”) you just might end up with an unnecessary neck fusion surgery.
How to Tell the Difference Between Neck and Shoulder Pain
Shoulder problems will typically limit the motion of the shoulder in flexion and abduction – moving your arm up overhead in front of your body and lifting it out to the side. Especially if you feel any painful popping inside your shoulder or can’t sleep on that side – think shoulder-sourced pain from rotator cuff problems. A feeling of weakness in the arm when lifting it is also common.
A simple injection and some therapy (for the shoulder, not the neck) may help a lot.
Also, arthritis in the little joint at the end of your collarbone (clavicle) can be very painful – all the way from the neck and down into the arm, too. In that case, reaching that arm across your body towards the other side will often provoke the AC joint arthritic pain. Sometimes all you need is a cortisone shot in that little joint to get good relief. But – If your doctor doesn’t think to check the shoulder – and if the MRI shows a bulging or herniated cervical disc – you may be headed for unnecessary neck surgery.
Action: ALWAYS get your shoulder checked out before you sign up for any neck surgery. The burning, aching neck and arm pain just might be from your shoulder. As non-specific as a neck MRI is at identifying the cause of neck pain, an MRI of the shoulder is very accurate at pinning down the cause of shoulder and arm pain.
Plus, chiropractic for neck pain when the shoulder is the real cause not only wastes time, but can delay healing and cost hundreds unless you can tell the difference.
Radicular leg pain from sciatica needs no MRI to diagnose or treat it. MRI has been repeatedly found to FAIL to identify the cause of lower back pain or sciatica.
Epidural steroids often provide pain relief from the typical “sciatica” leg pain symptoms. MRI study BEFORE the epidural does nothing to improve diagnosis, speed recovery or give better long-lasting relief. Action: Without specific indications for an MRI — Routine lower back MRI study does not improve the success of epidural steroid injections for lower back pain.
See the report – http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/239128.php
Meds For Back Pain? Doctors Should Say “No” More Often According to New Approach From Harvard
Gordon D. Schiff, M.D. (Harvard Med School – Boston) with associates from the University of Illinois at Chicago advise M.D.s to:
Think beyond drugs such as narcotics. Would other interventions help?
Does the pain med merely cover-up pain – but with no real treatment or cure of the underlying source or cause of the pain?
Patients do not need to leave the office with a new or added prescription after each visit.
That’s why I like the principle of compound benefits. 3 different treatments proven to give partial relief – when combined – can result in 80-90 percent pain relief.
Ask your doctor: What’s the clinical proof that my treatment for back (or neck) pain actually gives relief? Are there 2 or 3 or 4 treatments that can work together to help cut my pain? Could that be safer and give me fewer side-effects than a strong narcotic or muscle relaxer?
Especially for chronic pain, this is a better-informed way to get your life back. Read more of the Harvard expert’s opinions on drugs as primary treatment here: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/228187.php