American College of Physicians releases new guideline for treating low back pain

The American College of Physicians (ACP) just released a new clinical guideline regarding the treatment of nonradicular low back pain. Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the new guideline recommends that patients suffering from acute or sub-acute low back pain begin with non-drug therapies such as heat, chiropractic spinal manipulation, exercise, low-level laser therapy, acupuncture, or yoga among others. Nonradicular low back refers to pain that is not caused by damage to, or radiates from, a spinal nerve root.

Low back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit their doctor, along with being one of the most common reasons people miss work. The new guideline suggests that by implementing non-drug therapies such as spinal manipulation as a primary method for treatment of low back pain, costly tests and potentially harmful drug reactions could be minimized or avoided. The guideline goes on to state that prescription of opioids, due to their known risks of potential addiction and overdose, only be considered a last resort for patients who have tried all other methods of treatment with no success.

The ACP develop their clinical practice guideline through a rigorous review and deliberation of the best scientific evidence available and subsequently issue their recommendations.

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