What works best for back pain?
Back pain is one of the most common issues people face in their lives. Back injuries are also one of the most common work injuries and the majority of people will experience back pain sometime in their lives.
Many people that experience a back injury or back pain fail to find significant relief and many live with back pain.
The most common treatments include Tylenol, Ibuprofen, muscle relaxers, physical therapy, and surgery. The outcomes for back surgery are notorious poor especially in patients without specific nerve findings.
But what about exercise?
In a large meta-analysis Chris Maher and colleagues reviewed 21 studies, which included more than 30,000 people, to determine what works and what doesn't. Many common treatments that are commonly recommended like back supports and shoe insoles didn't help but exercise did.
In the study those that exercised even with a history of back pain had a 25 - 40 % lower risk of recurrent pain in the following year as compared to those that didn't exercise. The type of exercise didn't matter. The key was maintaining activity.
In another study of patients with neck pain those that exercised had a significantly increased chance of becoming pain free over those that took medication.
In conclusion, more and more evidence confirms that exercise and staying active is crucial to our health and may help prevent and alleviate back pain.
Of course, each individual case is different and the advice in this post should not substitute for getting a consultation with your doctor.
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