Consumer Reports: Relieve back pain without drugs

Consumer Reports: Relieve back pain without drugs

It’s one of the main reasons people see a doctor: back-pain. And in the U.S. it accounts for more than 24 million visits a year. But before you ask your physician for a prescription drug to ease the pain, Consumer Reports says a more “hands-on” approach could help you find some relief.

In a Consumer Reports survey of more than 3,500 back-pain sufferers nationwide, it found more than 80 percent of those who had tried yoga or tai chi, or saw a massage therapist or chiropractor said it helped them. Traditionally, the non-drug therapies had been considered alternative or complementary to mainstream medicine. But Consumer Reports is seeing from the evidence that they work just as well, if not better.

But a Consumer Reports’ survey found that insurers are far more likely to cover prescription drugs and doctor visits than non-drug treatments like yoga. CR advises that your insurer will be more likely to cover some of these non-drug pain treatments if you first get a referral from your doctor.

For back pain lasting less than three months, the American College of Physicians recommends first trying non-drug measures including heat, acupuncture, massage and spinal manipulation before resorting to medications.

Consumer Reports says that yoga and tai chi are fine for short-term pain if you’re familiar with the moves, but you shouldn’t start a new program until the pain has receded enough for you to walk and move around reasonably comfortably.