ATLANTA - If you're taking prescription drugs to deal with back pain, you might want to rethink your strategy.
At least that's the latest recommendation in a new study from the American College of Physicians.
There are three types of lower back pain: acute, subacute, and chronic. Acute low back pain lasts less than four weeks, subacute lasts four to 12 weeks and chronic lasts more than 12 weeks.
Folks suffering acute or subacute lower back pain usually get better over time and generally don't need medicine, researchers reported. Doctors, instead suggest heat therapy, massage, acupuncture or spinal manipulation to treat the ache.
If those treatments don't work, patients can talk to their doctors about possible medications, like ibuprofen or other muscle relaxants.
Those suffering from chronic lower back pain can try a variety of potential treatment options including yoga, Tai chi, rehabilitation, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction or progressive relaxation, the study said.
Patients with chronic lower back pain can also try electromyography biofeedback, which involves a machine that helps sense muscle tension and release it, researchers reported. Additional options include low-level laser therapy, operant therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and spinal manipulation.
If the treatments are not effective, patients can always discuss stronger options, like prescription drugs, with their doctor.
The research was published in the "Annals of Internal Medicine" Tuesday.