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New advice on back pain treatment published


by Arthritis Research Campaign



Two US-based groups have published new guidelines on diagnosing and treating lower back pain.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) and the American Pain Society (APS) published the guidelines in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Based on the opinions of a multidisciplinary panel of experts, the advice includes recommendations for primary care physicians to diagnose and treat lower back pain.

These include an algorithm to guide clinicians when making diagnosis and further recommendations for treatment.

"There are many options for evaluation and treatment of low back pain," explained Dr Amir Qaseem of the ACP.

"We wanted to review all the evidence and develop guidance for clinicians and to give our patients a realistic sense of what they can expect when they visit a clinician for low back pain.

"It is important to tell patients about their expected course based on evidence-based information and advise them to remain active."

The recommendations state that clinicians should not routinely order imaging or other diagnostic tests such as X-rays, CAT scans and MRIs for patients with non-specific low back pain.

Instead, these tools should be reserved for those severe or progressive neurologic deficits or suspected underlying conditions.

An Arthritis Research Campaign spokesman said that the US groups' view on back pain treatment concurred with UK guidelines.

"Imaging is rarely helpful unless a serious condition is suspected or surgery contemplated," added the spokesman.

"Giving people active coping strategies and advice about activity in conjunction with simple methods of pain control is the best way to treat acute and chronic back pain for the vast majority of sufferers of this condition.


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