Originally published August 2 2013
Doctors ignore back pain self-care guidelines and prescribe useless surgeries and meds instead
by Lance Johnson
(NaturalNews) In today's current medical arena, the mass consumption of useless surgeries and medications is growing at alarming rates. A new study by Dr. Bruce Landon from the Harvard Medical School shows that many doctors today are ignoring back pain self care guidelines and are instead sending patients through unnecessary tests and addictive narcotic treatments.
"Doctors should realize that back pain is not a lifelong condition," says Dr. Bruce Landon, pointing out that patients suffering from back pain usually recover within a couple of months. Expensive CT and MRI imaging scans are being overused and are unnecessary in many cases as well.
In fact, the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that back pain is usually caused by injury, strains from lifting, twisting, or bending that can heal over time. Each year, 13 million or more Americans go to a doctor looking for back pain relief and many are being shuffled into a trap of excessive scans and medications.
Prescription narcotic abuse and over-diagnosis on the riseThe Harvard study looked at two time periods with a ten year difference. (1999-2000 and 2009-2010) In between the two time periods, they found that narcotic drug prescriptions rose from 19.3 percent to an astounding 29.1 percent. During that same time, the use of over-the-counter pain relievers went down from 36.9 percent to 24.5 percent. This shows an overwhelming migration - patients are being led toward harder prescription pain killers as doctors become loose and careless with their prescription writing hand.
The use of CTs and MRIs increased at a similar pace, from 7.2 percent to 11.3 percent. Orthopedic surgeons were consulted only seven percent of the time ten years ago, but the rate of people seeing these specialists doubled during that ten year period!
"The most worrisome findings were the rapid rise in narcotic prescriptions," Landon wrote in the Harvard report. In 2008 alone, nearly 15,000 people died from narcotic overdoses. These drugs are obviously not helping patients, but instead leading to addiction and premature death.
Landon reports that the narcotic prescriptions are unnecessary most of the time and that back pain typically improves with proper chiropractic care and time. He believes primary care physicians should be doing a better job at managing back pain. This may be harder than it looks, according to the American College of Preventative Medicine. Less than 40% of physicians actually receive training in medical school to identify prescription drug abuse or recognize the warning signs of drug diversion, and an estimated 40% of primary care physicians find it difficult to discuss prescription medication abuse with patients.
Manual chiropractic therapies more effectiveCore chiropractic care treats patients manually and is based on spinal manipulation and mobilization. In spinal manipulation, high velocity, short lever arm thrusts are applied to abnormal vertebra to improve their functionality, reduce nerve irritability, and restore range of motion. When treated early and often enough, this manual manipulation bypasses addictive narcotic medicines going hands on - providing direct relief through the muscle-skeletal knowledge of a chiropractor. Chiropractors also use mobilization techniques that encourage low velocity manipulations that involve stretching the muscles and joints with the goal of increasing range of motion.
Chiropractors also teach proper posture when sitting and standing as well as the proper way to pick up heavy objects. The goal is to disperse the weight evenly by exhibiting balanced posture, using the knees to bend down and keeping the back straight.
Chiropractic care also teaches better ways to sleep, which include using supports under the neck, lower back and knees. Maintaining the natural curve in one's back while sleeping is key.
Natural herbs and spices that fight inflammationOther natural pain treatments include using spices like turmeric and ginger, that, over time, bring down inflammation in the body. These spices can be consumed regularly and without side effects. Bromelain, devils claw, and white willow bark extract are other safe pain relievers as well as topical capasaicin cremes.
In general, the rise in prescription narcotic drugs is tragic. Doctors nationwide need to take the lead and make natural pain relief options more readily available. There should be more accountability when it comes to the irresponsible prescribing of these drugs, which do more harm than all illegal drugs combined.
Sources for this article include
Manchikanti L. Prescription drug abuse: what is being done to address this new drug epidemic? Testimony before the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources. Pain Physician. 2006;9(4):287-321.
Crozier MK, McMillan S, Hudson S, Jones S. The Eastern North Carolina opioid prescriber's project: a model continuing medical education workshop. J Opioid Manag. 2010;6(5):359-364.
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