When it comes to treating back pain, which approach is better – conventional treatments or alternative therapies?
New Harvard research suggests a combination of may be the most effective strategy for the 8 in 10 Americans who will experience back pain at some point in their lives.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found many patients benefit significantly a “team-based model of care” that includes access to licensed chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists in addition to conventional care providers.
The study, led by Dr. David M. Eisenberg from Harvard Medical School, compared the experiences of back pain patients who used conventional therapy alone with those who used a combination of traditional care and alternative treatments.
They found significant differences between the two patient groups, with patients who received combination therapy reporting improvements in pain management, function and the ability to engage in challenging activities.
Alternative and complementary included acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, mind-body techniques, and nutritional counseling. Conventional care typically included non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), physical therapy, bed rest and changes in activity levels.