A meta-analysis of 26 clinical trials published in JAMA found that chiropractic manipulation can ease acute lower back pain. This comes at a time that doctors are striving to reduce the numbers of pain pills they prescribe.
Spinal Manipulation for Lower Back Pain:
The authors concluded that research supports spinal manipulation for this common type of short-term back pain. Improvements in function were noted without serious side effects.
Although the benefits are modest, the research supports non-drug approaches to treating back pain. Some 35 million people visit chiropractors in a year. No doubt many of them are seeking relief for acute lower back pain.
JAMA, April 12, 2017
Other Approaches to Ease Back Pain:
A previous study showed that spinal manipulation did not help acute back pain. If you try it and are disappointed, what else can you do? Luckily, you have a range of options.
Yoga for the Back:
Several studies have determine that people who practice yoga can alleviate their lower back pain. Rather than acute lower back pain that lasts just a few days or weeks, the yoga studies selected volunteers with persistent back pain. Both individual studies (such as this one we reported in 2009) and meta-analyses (like this one from 2017) have found that yoga can be helpful. People with back pain do need to make sure their yoga instructors don’t recommend poses or stretches that could be harmful, however.
Physical therapy is as effective as surgery in easing back pain due to lumbar stenosis. It is much less likely to cause unexpected harm, however. The American College of Physicians includes physical therapy in its list of alternatives that can be helpful for lower back pain that started recently with no obvious cause. The list also includes acupuncture, massage, heat and mild exercise.
Many readers report that they get relief from their back pain by taking natural anti-inflammatory products. Boswellia, bromelain, ginger, turmeric and tart cherries all have anti-inflammatory properties. They are worth trying.