Regular readers of the Journal for Natural Health Solutions will know that we are committed to uncovering the very latest natural health breakthroughs each month and seeking out safe alternatives to side-effect-ridden drugs, which often only mask symptoms and do little to address the underlying cause of an ailment. One area where a natural approach can win hands down over conventional drugs is back pain, a common condition that affects one in 10 people.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are usually the first port of call for most people when back pain strikes, but they can cause a wide range of adverse effects including gastrointestinal bleeding and stomach ulcers. And now a recent overview of research has shown that back pain sufferers may be risking their gut health for drugs which have little or no benefit.
The researchers, led by Dr. Manuela Ferreira from the George Institute in Sydney, analysed 35 trials involving 6,000 patients using NSAIDs for conditions such as back and neck pain and sciatica. Only one in six patients treated with the drugs received any pain relief that they would not have got from a placebo, and that was so small it probably made no difference to their lives according to the researchers. Worse still, the drugs more than doubled the risk of problems such as bleeding and stomach ulcers.
Dr. Manuela Ferreira said: “When you factor in the side effects, which are very common, it becomes clear these drugs are not the answer to providing pain relief to the many millions of [people] who suffer from this debilitating condition every year.” Dr. Gustavo Machado, another of the researchers, said that sufferers “are taking drugs that not only don’t work very well, they’re causing harm”.
Instead, he believes that: “Patients with back pain should consider an exercise programme to help them manage their condition, e.g. aerobic exercises, strengthening/stretching exercises, pilates, yoga, core-stability exercises.” In fact, research shows that you should try and stay as active and carry on as normally as possible when back pain strikes, while taking care not to aggravate the problem.
Studies have found that supervised exercise programmes can significantly reduce lower back pain, while bed rest may actually delay recovery. Dr. Machado said that patients were being encouraged to have tests and surgery that often did them little good because doctors failed to get to the root cause of their pain. “This is definitely a result of poor management, where patients are not properly assessed using evidence-based care,” he said.
How refreshing to hear someone in the mainstream standing up and actually telling it like it is for a change! In addition to binning the painkillers, losing any excess weight and trying to stay as active as possible… it may also be a good idea to add vitamin D to that list. A recent study has revealed that vitamin D supplementation can help relieve chronic back pain. Pain and disability scores significantly improved within six months in the 68 men and women taking high dose vitamin D who had chronic lower back pain for at least three months that had not responded to either medication or physical therapy prior to the study.
Take 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day. Here’s to feeling free of aches and pain without having to rely on a potent cocktail of painkillers and antiinflammatory drugs!Here's to your good health,
Journal Of Natural Health Solutions
Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, published online ahead of print on 2 February 2017
Spine 1998; 23: 2616-24
Lancet 1999; 354: 1229-33
Pain Physician, January 2017