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Low back pain: The most improperly treated condition

Millions suffer from low back pain and are often prescribed inappropriate treatment methods and tests, despite recent guidelines from the CDC


Low back pain is the number one cause for disability around the world, with the rate of disability rising globally by 50% since 1990. Some contributing factors include the obesity epidemic, sedentary lifestyles, and the aging population.

However, low back pain does not discriminate. A recent poll found that 8 out of 10 people will be affected by low back pain at some point in their lifetime.

In the US specifically, 25% of the population report having an episode of low back pain within the last 3 months. Furthermore, 60% of people with low back pain have a prescription for opioids, all while the country battles an opioid epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established opioid prescription guidelines in 2016. Since then, practitioners are expected to dose prescription opioids only for appropriate cases, such as cancer treatment, palliative care, end-of-life care, and in acute care situations. For pain management, the CDC recommends nonopioid approaches, including physical therapy. 

Though recent guidelines have recommended physical therapy and exercise as a primary treatment method to address low back pain, it is not being widely recognized.

No one wants to suffer from chronic pain, that's a fact. But prescribing addictive pain medications, in an effort to live a pain free life, is not the answer. Opioid medications simply mask pain, as do many other inappropriately prescribed treatments. Risks of opioids include depression, overdose, addiction and withdrawal symptoms.

There are safer alternatives!

Physical therapists understand that your pain is personal and subjective, and treating pain is different for every individual. It takes a supportive team to understand your symptoms. Physical therapists provide hands-on care, pain management strategies, and patient education. The goal is for patients to learn how to manage your symptoms and regain your mobility, in order to get back to doing what you love.

Take control of your health. Be an advocate for yourself. You have a choice!


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