MD REVIEW

Why Doctors Won’t Fix Your Back

Does Your Back Hurt Now?

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Chances are, you have been struck by a backache at some point in your life. In fact, it is probably the reason you are reading this. So what exactly is the deal with back pain? Nearly every­one we know has it. Some people even undergo debilitat­ing treat­ments because their back­ache won’t end. Yet doctors don’t seem to be as helpful as we expect them to be. Let’s find out why many patients get little more than a pat on the back.

Why Does Lower Back Pain Occur?

The anatomy of the lower back is complex, with many causes of pain. We can assume it is because of consis­tent poor posture. It might be the result of unfavorable anatomical situations like obesity, having stiff ankles or large breasts.

There may be other more serious reasons for back­aches. This includes a pinched nerve, a tumor, or spinal injury. But these conditions are rare in contrast with common back pain.

The intensity of pain ranges from mild to very severe and unbear­able. It can be acute, subacute, or chronic. In any of these cases, there may be no evident under­lying serious cause for your low back pain.

The most common reasons for lower back pain include muscle strain or sprains on the muscle liga­ments. These result from poor posture over a long time, injuries, lifting heavy objects, or jerky move­ments. Other conditions include herniated discs, spondy­lolis­thesis, spinal stenosis, or degenera­tive disc disease.

What Doctors Do

Doctors Won't Fix Backs

Doctors can immediately locate a cause at the site of the pain. So if you are under­going severe back pain, the doctor considers two possible options: drugs and surgery.

When it comes to drugs, doctors will most likely turn towards pain killers. Acetaminophen is a frequent prescription for back pain when the doctor cannot detect any cause. However, it is largely unhelpful. Ibuprofen and muscle relaxants are much more beneficial. Even these provide more of a symptomatic cure than permanent resolution.

Spinal surgery is extremely risky and doctors often refuse it if patients opt for it electively. There is often no need for spinal surgery since the causes of lower back pain are rarely localized to the spine. More often than not, a doctor considers orthopedic surgery when a problem in the back causes referred numb­ness or pain in the extremities. Relieving pressure on a spinal nerve to regain use of your hands or feet has better outcomes than aiming to eliminate back pain.

Can Osteopathy Help?

Doctors have extensive training and are excellent at what they do. However, when it comes to postural therapy and holistic treat­ments, you might have to look at alter­na­tive therapies. For lower back pain, the best option for you might be osteopathy.

Osteopathy is a non-invasive form of therapy that does not require drugs. The osteopath focuses on the joints, muscles, and spine. The treatment aims to improve the blood and lymphatic circulation across the body. This can have a positive impact on the nervous system as well.

Even though osteopathy is a holistic and manual form of treatment, osteopaths are qualified doctors (MDs) as well. They often perform their osteopathic treat­ments alongside conserva­tive medicine such as painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs.

If you suffer from lower back pain, it may seem tradi­tional doctors are giving you a hard time. Maybe alterna­tive therapy can provide the relief you need.

Co-author Anique Ali, MD has a keen interest in medical bioinformatics.

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