Low Back Pain – Chiropractic, Drugs or Surgery?

Before taking on any form of care it is always worth being fully informed. A recent Harvard study with commentary (link here) has shown that recommended therapy for low back pain has changed to great degrees over the years. In the 1980’s  people were recommended a week of bed rest which now has been proven to be one of the worst ideas when it comes to recovering from a back problem.

In fact, sedentary activity (or a lack of movement) is actually the biggest predictor of low back pain – isn’t that ironic? Since then recommendations had changed to NSAIDS (over the counter anti-inflammatories) which have now again been shown to actually not be a good idea.

“A recent study found that NSAIDS did not work well for back pain”

Recommendations released recently (February 2017) now urges doctors to change their approach once again.

“For new low back pain (lasting less than 12 weeks): try




Spinal Manipulation, as with Chiropractic Care”

For many years Chiropractic has been frowned upon for a lack of research, what should be remembered is that Chiropractic is a private profession and therefore does not have funding for research. Since Chiropractic has formed associations funded by Chiropractors in the profession research has now shown that Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation is effective for acute low back pain. So much so that now other therapists (such as Physiotherapists) have now formed degrees (example: Manipulative Physiotherapy) to begin providing similar beneficial treatment.

The study goes on to mention that: “If these don’t work, NSAIDS or muscle relaxants are reasonable options. But given their potential to cause side effects and their modest benefits, they aren’t the first choice”

If of course these do not work, your final choice is surgery…but be informed, results with surgery vary dramatically between different procedures and are not a one size fits all. Results can also show initial positive changes which decrease as time goes on.

My recommendations for care with patients without significant neurological compromise (for example symptoms such as loss of function, noteable leg weakness, bowel or bladder dysfunction and other red flag changes) is to always consult a conservative form of physical therapy from a qualified professional first for your low back pain. If a course of care for your low back pain is not beneficial than drugs or medication are your second best choice and if these do not work either then it may be time to look at the surgical option (but always last).

The picture attached shows our Chiropractic premise, which is Chiropractic first, Drugs second and Surgery last. Sadly, many children think the second image is in fact candy which shows us everything that is wrong with the previous approach to back problems.

Any questions with your low back pain or low back problems, please call the clinic on 02 9918 0070 and we can schedule a time that I can call you back and answer any questions or concerns you may have before you attend the clinic.

Yours in Health,

Sam Garner DC

Chiropractor, Director
Avalon Beach Chiropractic & Wellness

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