The Guardian

The hard truth about back pain: don’t rely on drugs, scans or quick fixes | Ann Robinson

Most treatment is wasteful, wanton and wrong, says the Lancet. The key is to try to keep walking and working
‘Concentrate on core muscle strengthening with pilates [pictured], swimming and some types of yoga once you recover from the acute attack.’ Photograph: Juergen Hasenkopf/Alamy

Back pain is the biggest cause of disability globally, and most of us will have at least one nasty bout of it. But treatment is often wasteful, wanton and wrong, according to a series of papers in the Lancet . “Worldwide, overuse of inappropriate tests and treatments such as imaging, opioids and surgery means patients are not receiving the right care, and resources are wasted,” it says.

It’s perfectly understandable to want a quick-fix solution to make the pain go away and maybe a is – caused by damage to ligaments, joints and muscles surrounding the spine. A tiny percentage is due to a serious or dangerous underlying cause that needs specific diagnosis and intervention – such as cancer, infection or a fracture.

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