Health & Spirit

New guidelines for managing lower back pain

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

"The Blair Witch Project" (1999), "The Others" (2001) and "Halloween" (2007) are spine-tingling horror films. While they've raked in a total of $595.9 million at the box office, if that's not a sensation you want to experience, you can just walk away.

Unfortunately, it's not that easy to avoid the spine-dinging ache of low-back pain. Over 80 percent of Americans contend with LBP at some point, often from arthritis, heavy use at work, doing sports, or following an accident. So what's been the go-to solution? First a NSAID or other anti-inflammatories, then a scan and opioids. They are the treatments that Medicare/insurers push.

Well, that's about to change -- we hope. New clinical practice guidelines from the American College of Physicians recommend that doctors move away from scans and prescribing drugs, and embrace nonmedicine based treatments for LBP, including yoga, mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy. Why? According to a Canadian review, for 95 percent of LBP patients medical interventions are no more effective than placebo! This echoes a study from 2016 in the Annals of Internal Medicine that found that massage, tai chi, yoga, physical therapy and acupuncture were effective therapies.

So if you're knocked off your feet with LBP, ask your doc about nonmedicine-based treatments. If the pain lasts more than six weeks, then you should be referred to a specialist and get an MRI. We bet Medicare/insurers also will embrace this effective, cost-saving approach! (LBP costs the U.S. over $100 billion annually; two-thirds of that in lost productivity and decreased wages!)



Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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