Survey reveals ways to combat back pain

Dr. Richard Kowal is a chiropractor who's treated plenty of people suffering from back pain.

"They've either had it for a short time and it's very severe, or they've had a lower level of pain that they've been living with," said Dr. Kowal.

Alison Howlett is one of his patients. She came to him with severe lower-back pain after a car accident.

"It affects your entire day, every movement, putting on your pants, brushing your teeth. One of the hardest things for me is washing my face in the sink," said Howlett.

A Consumer Reports' survey shows that many people who visited a chiropractor were happy with the results.

"Almost 60-percent of those who tried chiropractic manipulation said it helped a lot. And about the same percentage of people were highly satisfied with their chiropractor," said Dr. Orly Avitzur, Consumer Reports.

Also rated very helpful in the survey were other hands-on therapies, like massage as well as physical therapy. And these treatments were rated more helpful than over-the-counter or even prescription medication.

If nothing is working to relieve your pain, surgery is a consideration. But how happy you are with the results will likely depend on your diagnosis. And always proceed with caution.

"More than 50-percent of respondents reported a problem with recovery from surgery, for example, finding it longer and more painful than they had expected. And 16-percent said their back pain didn't improve at all after surgery," said Dr. Avitzur.

Finally, 44-percent of those surveyed found exercise helpful, making it the highest-rated self-help treatment.

Experts say a targeted exercise program plus relaxation methods, not only ease stiffness and pain but also overcome a back patient's counter-productive fear of movement. Immobility can worsen a back problem by causing the loss of up to 3-percent of muscle function in just one day.



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