You bend down to pick up a heavy box and immediately feel a sharp pain shoot through your lower back. The pain intensifies and you know you need something to help relieve the aching. So you reach for paracetamol or ibuprofen from the medicine cabinet. Sound familiar?
Here’s some news that might give you reason to pause the next time you reach for painkillers to treat your back pain. Researchers have cautioned analgesics may not be as effective as you think.
Wondering what’s a good alternative to alleviate lower back discomfort? Try massage therapy – and we’ll tell you why.
Putting the brakes on painkillers
When it comes to treating back pain, a recent study has warned analgesic medicines like paracetamol or anti-inflammatories are ineffective – and might even cause more harm than good.
Researchers from UNSW Sydney, Neuroscience Research Australia and Brunel University London concluded that while paracetamol, ibuprofen and codeine were commonly used to treat low back pain, there was little evidence of their effectiveness.
In fact, researchers discovered that some analgesic drugs could produce undesirable side effects like nausea, dizziness and drowsiness.
The real deal or just a placebo?
The study was comprehensive. Researchers analysed 98 randomised controlled trials published between 1964 and 2021 involving about 15,000 participants with acute non-specific low back pain – that’s pain lasting less than six weeks.
They found there was little difference between the effects of several of the medications and advised clinicians to take a “cautious approach” to the use of analgesics.
Physiotherapy – an alternative to analgesics
With one in six Australians reporting having a back problem, back pain remains one of the most common reasons people visit their GP.
So what to do? You need to keep moving to speed up the healing and that could mean consulting a physiotherapist for the best exercise program to help you stretch and strengthen your back muscles.
Targeted exercises will not only help you manage the pain but help avoid recurrence.
We’re here to help
If you’re plagued by back problems and you’re looking for an alternative to analgesics to treat the pain, consult a physiotherapist to help control the discomfort and improve your quality of life.
Our physiotherapists specialise in musculoskeletal problems including physiotherapy treatment for lower back pain. We can design a tailored treatment program to restore your movement and get you back to health, pain free.