Based on new research, experts have developed updated guidelines to help doctors better manage individuals suffering from acute lower back pain, which can be particularly debilitating. Pain and discomfort located in the lower back, known as the lumbar spine, is such a common ailment that it is second only to the common cold in lost work days.
What’s the Consensus Among Chiropractors?
Despite the vast numbers of people seeking help for pain low in the back, there has never been a consensus among chiropractic professionals on the best way to treat the condition. That lack of standardized care was the impetus for the team from Emory University Hospital and Georgia Health Sciences University that conducted the research. Their results and the subsequent suggested guidelines were published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology’s October 2012 issue.
Article co-author Dr. Scott Forseen explains, “The approach to the workup and management of low back pain by physicians and other practitioners is inconstant. There is significant variability in the diagnostic workup of back pain among physicians within and between specialties.”
During their research, Dr. Forseen and his colleagues developed a methodology for how physicians should manage patients who are experiencing lower back pain. The initial step begins during the initial visit where caregivers should conduct a complete medical history and physical exam and then put the patient into one of three categories: non-specific low back pain; low back pain potentially related to the compression of a spinal nerve or due to unusual or abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal, also known as spinal stenosis; or other low back pain possibly related to an as-of-yet unnamed specific cause.
How Can the Newly Published Guidelines Benefit Me?
These published guidelines also offer information for each low back pain category to help doctors work through the process of evaluation, management, and follow-up of patients. This information includes recommendations for imaging, laboratory tests, and referrals for surgical consultation.
Dr. Forseen believes his team has presented “a logical method of choosing, developing and implementing clinical decision support interventions that is based on the best available evidence. These templates may be reasonably expected to improve patient care, decrease inappropriate imaging utilization, reduce the inappropriate use of steroids and narcotics, and potentially decrease the number of inappropriate invasive procedures.”
In other words, patients will get better care for their back without unnecessary side effects that could negatively affect their overall health.