As many as one in five Americans suffer from chronic pain, an often intractable problem that costs the country more than $600 billion in treatments and lost work-time and has helped fuel a deadly opioid epidemic.
But new CU Boulder research, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, provides some of the strongest evidence yet that a non-drug, psychological treatment can provide potent and durable relief.
This study suggests a fundamentally new way to think about both the causes of chronic back pain for many people and the tools that are available to treat that pain.
As a long time sufferer of lower back pain, I have tried a plethora of physical therapies for relief. This one sounds like it has some positive possibilities. For the record, I have experienced acupuncture and acupressure in the past with very good results.
A recent study finds that acupressure, a traditional Chinese medicine technique, can improve chronic pain symptoms in the lower back.
Michigan Medicine illustration
“Acupressure is similar to acupuncture, but instead of needles, pressure is applied with a finger, thumb or device to specific points on the body,” says Susan Murphy, ScD, OTR, an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Michigan Medicine and lead author of the study. Continue reading →
Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.2
Experts estimate that as much as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives.
Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain—and that’s just for the more easily identified costs.
People are constantly on the move during the warm summer months. It’s a popular time for family vacations, moving to a new home, or catching up on outdoor yard chores.
Unfortunately, many of these common activities lead to painful back injuries. In 2014, roughly 3.7 million people visited doctors’ offices for back symptoms related to pain and/or injuries during the summer months (June through August).
I really have to confess ignorance on the subject of opioids. I make it a point to keep my drug use at a bare minimum. Naturally, I have heard of opioid abuse. Who didn’t see those shocking pictures of golf great Tiger Woods the night he tried driving under the influence of opioids?
I recently suffered some severe back pain from hanging my bike on the rack carelessly. I went to the hospital for rehab work, but didn’t take any drugs.
I wanted to report what Harvard has to say on the subject because it offers a lot of information on asking questions of your doctor.
Opioid misuse is now one of most important health problems in the United States, rivaling smoking as a cause of death. Although news reports tend to focus on an opioid crisis among the young, the opioid epidemic is increasingly affecting older people as well. In fact, the rates of hospitalization for opioid overdoses among Medicare recipients quintupled from 1993 through 2012. Although older people are still less likely than younger ones to become addicted or succumb to opioid overdoses, they are more likely to suffer side effects from extended opioid use, including memory and cognition problems and falls.
I have written about yoga a number of times here. About a month ago I posted on a yoga study – yoga and back pain.
For the record, I dated a yoga teacher some years ago and practiced it religiously for the two years we were together and for several years afterward. So I am very familiar with its practice and results. I have certainly used the relaxation techniques available from yoga breathing virtually every day of my life.
I recently had some problems with my lower back. It was stiff and painful. It also felt like I was aggravating it riding the bike. So I went to the doctor. Upon examination, she told me that at my age, 77, I may have lost some of my flexibility, particularly in my spine. She recommended doing some yoga to see if it gave me relief.
First, some back pain facts.
WebMD says, “Back pain includes lower back pain, middle back pain, upper back pain or low back pain with sciatica. Nerve and muscular problems, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis can result in back pain.”
Treatment for lower back pain accounts for approximately a third of all visits to a massage therapist. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that patients suffering from lower back pain of unknown origin were helped more by massage than by conventional medical treatment.
According to the National Institutes of Health, lower back pain is the second most common form of chronic pain after headaches. Experts estimate that approximately 80% of Americans will seek help for low back pain at some point during their lives. Public health officials and insurers estimate that Americans spend $50 billion each year on treatments that are often ineffective. The standard treatment for lower back pain is to take muscle relaxants, painkillers or anti-inflammatory medications, along with physical therapy and back exercises. However, few medical interventions relieve pain reliably, and continuing to take painkillers on a long-term basis is not advised. Massage, on the other hand, has been found to be an effective way of dealing with back pain on a regular basis.
Treatment for lower back pain accounts for approximately a third of all visits to a massage therapist. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine