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Consumer Reports Survey: Hands-On Therapies Among Top-Rated Treatments for Back Pain
Date:4/6/2009

n. Dr. Avitzur discusses her concerns about narcotics in her "5 Minute Consult," available online at www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org.

Getting Treatment

When back pain is severe, a visit to a primary-care doctor is a reasonable first step. A doctor can help rule out disease, such as infection or cancer, and refer a patient to a hands-on practitioner who might be covered by health insurance.

Using self-help approaches to ease the pain or seeing a chiropractor or physical therapist as a first step might be okay for a recurrent, familiar back problem. Research suggests that chiropractic manipulation can reduce acute low-back pain, and many, though certainly not all, of the respondents who tried it said it helped.

Use Caution with Surgery

If back pain is unrelenting and no other treatment has seemed to work, a doctor might suggest seeing a surgeon. Consumer Reports conducted a separate survey of almost 1,000 consumers who had back surgery in the past five years.

Those who had back surgery had tried nine to 10 treatments and described themselves as much more impaired by their pain than people with back problems who did not have surgery. Just 60 percent of the back-surgery respondents were completely or very satisfied with the results. But satisfaction depended on the diagnosis and the type of surgery. Those with degenerative disk disease (arthritis of the spine) were far less likely to be highly satisfied with surgery (54 percent) than those with a herniated disk (73 percent) or spinal stenosis (71 percent).

But not everyone does so well. More than 50 percent of respondents reported at least one problem with recovery, finding it lengthier and more painful than they had expected. The most common regret was that more post-surgery rehabilitation was n
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SOURCE Consumer Reports
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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