(NaturalNews) There are many alternative ways to treat back and neck pain apart from drugs that studies have shown to be effective. But many doctors continue to prescribe drug treatments to their patients anyway, according to new research out of Duke University and the University of North Carolina (UNC).
According to Dr. Adam Goode, PT, DPT, and his colleagues from the UNC Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, most people with chronic neck or back pain find little relief from conventional treatment options, which most often involve various strengths of pain medications. And the long-term effectiveness of these treatments is dismal, they concluded, based on systematic reviews published in The Cochrane Library and The Bone and Joint Decade (BJD) 2000 - 2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders: Noninvasive Interventions for Neck Pain.
Certain methods that actually provide demonstrated benefits are often not recommended by doctors, while others that studies have shown to be effective are ignored.
"Rehabilitation conditioning and acupuncture studies have shown to be effective treatments that were less frequently used by patients with chronic neck pain," explained Goode. Instead, many patients rely on over-the-counter medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), various other narcotics like oxycodone and codeine.
Another problem is the overuse of imaging tests in assessing neck and back conditions. According to the study, participants received an average of 1.6 diagnostic tests each, which included spinal radiographs, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT) scans. But these scans appear to do little or nothing for people with persistent pain.
"For patients with such a long disease duration, the likelihood that imaging techniques would offer clinically important inferences may decrease," emphasized Goode.