A major review published in the Lancet has found that millions of people with back pain are being given the wrong treatment.
Lower back pain is now the leading cause of disability in the UK. It is responsible for more than one in 10 of all serious health complaints and costs the NHS £2.1 billion annually.
Estimates say that it costs the UK economy around £10 billion in lost working days and informal care.
Anyone who has suffered from back pain (this writer included) knows that there is no miracle solution, and it takes time to learn what works to alleviate your own symptoms and pain. However, many patients are needlessly being prescribed strong painkillers, wrongly told to rest or even undergoing unnecessary surgery in a bid to treat lower back pain. This is despite mounting evidence showing that simple exercises and stretches are more effective for easing symptoms.
NICE advises that people with back pain are prescribed exercise, drugs such as ibuprofen, or both at the same time. Not only is the NHS’s approach failing to achieve the desired results, it is also costing millions of pounds worth of taxpayer’s money.
It is clear is that one size does not fit all in terms of managing the pain. Every patient is different. However, if existing treatments are not working we should be looking more at massage, exercise, yoga, acupuncture, osteopathy, chiropractic and Alexander Technique to name but a few. Let us see which of these options might suit the individual patient’s needs.
NHS England has just undertaken a cost-saving exercise with the purported aim of saving the NHS money. If that is so, why is this scandalous waste of NHS resources allowed to continue?