Recent research has linked chronic neck and back pain with a host of cardiovascular problems including increased heart rate, blood pressure and the risk of heart attack. Physicians and researchers are becoming increasingly aware that back and neck pain must be diagnosed and treated in its early stages to prevent chronicity. Back pain is generally easier to threat in the acute stages. However, much can be done for chronic pain as well.
The Annals of Internal Medicine in its October 2007 issue conducted a review of all the relevant research data in regards to the treatment of back pain. The article included data from both acute and chronic cases. Some of the data results were surprising. The recommendations were different for acute and chronic cases.
Patients with acute back pain were advised to stay active. Bed rest led to an increased risk of the development of chronic pain. Surprisingly the literature in regards to acute pain recommended only 2 effective types of treatment: anti-inflammatory medication and spinal manipulation. The researchers were cautious in the recommendation of anti-inflammatory medication due to their concern over the lack of research on long term of side effects. Spinal manipulation provided for decreased risk of chronicicity and shorter duration of pain. Those patients who pain did not resolve quickly were advised to seek manipulative therapy.
As suspected, chronic back pain was found to be more difficulty to treat. However, a larger number of different therapeutic options were found to be effective. Spinal manipulation was again shown to help in many cases. In addition, exercise therapy and yoga showed promising results. Massage therapy was also recommended, as well as acupuncture. There is some indication that combination of these therapies may also provide a synergistic effect.
Every individual case of back pain is unique and may respond differently to treatment. The myriad of treatment options that are available today should give hope to back pain sufferers. This is particularly true for those with chronic pain. The key to a good treatment outcome is getting a correct and timely diagnosis. Once this is established, a physician can direct you with the correct treatment. However, patience is often critical for chronic cases. Some individuals may only respond to a certain type or combination of therapy. Don’t ever give up, very few cases are beyond help and the consequences of living with chronic back pain can be significant.
(This article is a continuation of an article from the last issue of Washington Crossroads Magazine. It may be viewed online washingtoncrossroadsmag.com.)