New Guidelines Confirm Alternative Therapies Should be the First Defense Against Back Pain
At NeuroMetrix, we are dedicated to delivering effective, drug-free options to those living with chronic pain. New guidelines released by the American College of Physicians (ACP) suggest that clinicians are moving in this same direction when it comes to treating low back pain, but are still largely overlooking the benefits of technological treatments. Let’s take a closer look at the guidelines.
A Step in the Right Direction
The latest guidelines from the ACP around treating low back pain shared a promising message – that those living with back pain should first explore drug-free remedies before defaulting to medication. These recommendations are some of the first to focus heavily on alternative treatment options, and suggest that powerful opioid painkillers, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, be viewed as a last resort for those living with low back pain. In addition, the guidelines recommend against using acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain relief, pointing to new research that shows it’s ineffective for low back pain.
For those living with “nonspecific” low back pain (i.e., your back hurts but you’re not sure why), less invasive treatments such as applying heat or increasing activity are the best option. The guidelines suggest that those with acute low back pain first try nonpharmacological treatments such as a heat wrap, massage, or acupuncture. For those patients whose low back pain is chronic, lasting more than 12 weeks, the guidelines recommend considering acupuncture, mind-body therapies – including yoga and tai-chi, mindfulness, meditation and relaxation techniques – and cognitive behavioral therapy.
While we’re in agreement that drug-free options should be the first line of defense against chronic low back pain, we’d argue that one important piece of the puzzle was left out of the guidelines: the power of technology. New innovative technologies offer an appealing option because they can deliver similar – if not more powerful – relief than what patients would experience with opioids, without the side effects.
Devices that use neurotechnology can make a major impact for those living with chronic pain. Take, for example, Quell – our 100% drug-free wearable device – which stimulates neural pulses which triggers the release of the body’s natural pain blockers, ultimately delivering widespread pain relief. We developed Quell to help address a variety of chronic pain types – from nerve pain to arthritic or joint back to lower back pain – so users wouldn’t have to rely on opiates and other medications as their first (or sole) treatment option. In a clinical study, 67% of participants reported reducing their use of pain medications. That’s an amazing thing, and these new guidelines speak to the need for these types of alternatives.
No one-size-fits-all approach
Of course, a big part of this conversation is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating chronic pain. Pain is an extremely personal experience that each person living with it is forced to go through in their own unique way, so finding the right mix of treatment methods is incredibly important.
The good news is that groups like the ACP support this approach and that our company – and organizations like ours – will never stop trying to uncover new, drug-free ways to empower those living with chronic pain.
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