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There is no way around it; Back Pain & Injury Requires Exercise & Ergonomics Not Drugs

Home / accessibility / There is no way around it; Back Pain & Injury Requires Exercise & Ergonomics Not Drugs

Set back for yet another back pain medication highlights the need for emphasis on prevention & exercise efforts

Yet another drug aimed at being a cure all for back pain as part of the promise of a panacea in the treatment of back pain has failed. The latest drug Axomadol, that was being investigated for the relief of symptoms of moderate to severe chronic lower back pain was found to not be helpful. Its producer, Endo Pharmaceuticals, recently announced the results of the drug’s Phase 2 randomized, double-blind, parallel group design study  of 236 patients.

The researchers did not find that the drug performed significantly better when compared to a placebo medication, and the company is currently conducting further analysis to determine the future of the program.
So what else has been tried for low back pain and failed? Here is a partial list;
  1. Opioids
  2. Anti-depressants
Given this list and the fact that many mainstream back pain medications have addictive properties we are trying to encourage North Americans to take steps to improve their lifestyle to allow people to learn to understand their low back discomfort & issues as well as how to modulate levels of discomfort (notice I am not promising back pain or injury will not occur as this impossible in most cases and a normal part of being a bipedal mammal).
It is time to stop looking for the magic pill; the perfect chiropractor or Physiotherapist who will make this all go away.  Rather it is time to think of Spine-healthy habits which should include;
  • A more active lifestyle such as using the stairs at work; getting off the bus or subway one stop earlier to walk home; standing to perform more tasks in the workplace
  • getting at least 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise per day
  • Using good body mechanics and accessing ergonomic tools & using them in your workplace
  • Shedding extra weight which impacts the health of your spine
  • Avoiding dependence upon one’s chiropractor, physiotherapist & massage therapist and asking these professionals to give you a program  of exercise so you can become independent of the health professional
The more active lifestyle and work behaviours can be a challenge for those of us who work in an office or automated factory. And this group is at high risk for developing back pain symptoms. With this in mind OPC & our Consulting Ergonomic Experts and Physiotherapists recommend the following tips for you in the workplace:
  • take frequent micro-breaks to get up and stretch your legs & back
  • take advantage of lunch breaks to walk around not just sit in a poorly designed chair in the cafeteria or fast food restaurant
  • communicate in person by walking down the hallway to a colleague’s office rather than send messages via email or phone
  • hold impromptu meetings in standing around the coffee or tea pot
  • while sitting at the desk strive to keep you back into the backrest of the chair at an angle of 100 to 110 degrees not the old style 90 degrees you still see on postures
  • set the computer screen so the eyes are even with where you look the most on the screen so your back and neck can be held in a healthy posture
  • and for women who tend to perch on the front 1/3 of your chairs have a look at how the men around you sit as they tend to lean into the back of chair & adopt more relaxed postures. To do the same use the lever on the chair (Knoll, Herman Miller & Steelcase have great chairs which are easy to switch to a dynamic, rocking mode) during the day to allow all parts of the spine and legs to move in a dynamic mode (your grandmother’s rocking chair was not just about sitting & thinking it was about dynamic movement occurring whilst seated)
And even when back pain occurs make sure you use common sense and do not get caught up in the business of back pain (this is a multi-billion dollar business in N America per year). The lesson I learned from some of the best Orthopaedic and Neuro surgeons & Physiotherapists in the business was
  1. Use Aspirin or Ibuprofen not the expensive drugs on the market for the first 3 days
  2. Adopt postures which are most comfortable through the day
  3. Try acupuncture &various relaxation and meditation techniques in the first 3 days
  4. Add ice to the back for 20 minutes every 2 hours or so (never heat)
  5. Resume normal activities on an “as tolerated” basis from day 4 onwards
 If this all sounds too simple just remember mechanical low back pain is a relatively simple & very common issue which we all experience at least once in our lifetimes. Taking a practical approach and not panicking and running to the Emergency Department (where you will be low on the priority list, not seen by an expert and sent home with strong opoid based medications) is key.
If you would like to learn more about your back and how to manage it further consult my practical guide at www.Carswell.com Author JE Sleeth. This approach will forever change how you view your own back pain and how to help employees who experience back pain.
Back pain treatments place a financial burden on patients and the healthcare system, as only 5 percent of individuals with back pain disability account for 75 percent of the costs associated with lower back pain. North Americans spend at least $60 billion annually on expenses related to the condition. It is time for medical & rehabilitative evidence to be used; and for common sense and the use of active lifestyles & exercise to prevail.
JE Sleeth Senior Ergonomist & Physiotherapist OPC Inc
  • optimalperformanceblog

    Hi Orville; could not agree more re being overweight and obese in other cases; this adds a large biomechanical load thru the spine and all of the joints of the lower body. Physiotherapists are trying to educate their patients about this; not all overweight patients and employees want to hear this however it is a big and critical part of improving symptomology and function.
    Great feedback and thank you
    Jane E Sleeth OPC Reg PT

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