The medication most often prescribed is a combination of a muscle relaxer and a pain reliever.
The theory is that easing the pain, relaxing the muscles that might be in spasm, trying to protect the back, and resting for several days can best achieve healing.
If it is tolerated, physical therapy might be recommended as well.
As it turns out, there are some big problems with this approach.
Relaxing the muscles with drugs does ease the pain somewhat, and pain medications can certainly make the pain tolerable, however, this approach does not address the basic cause of the pain, and because the medication dulls the pain, it represses important body signals of when to be careful, and as a result, often predisposes the patient to further injury.
In addition, anti-inflammatory painkillers may further depress the body's natural immune functions and counteract the healing process.
As a result of these limitations, while some patients improved following traditional steps of back pain treatments, a large percentage of back pain sufferers got progressively worse, until therapy had to be stopped.
Many such pain sufferers end up being dependent on medications to find relief, whether prescribed or over-the-counter (OTC) in an attempt to deal with the pain and get back to work.
Years later, many still use such chemicals for back pain relief.
An effective method of relieving and preventing chronic back pain comes from a perhaps unexpected source - Yoga! Not a new science, not a miracle drug, but a systematic approach to total healing through the practice of a mental and physical activity that dates to sometime before 3000 B.
If you have persistent pain and have not found relief from traditional medical treatments, trying yoga for back pain may be worth considering.
A new study from India monitored eighty adults with low back pain, according to the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (Volume 14, page 637) and reported by Johns Hopkins University, found a 49% reduction in disability and increased spinal flexibility after just one week of intensive Yoga.
The National Institute of Health has funded new research that clearly indicates that regular Yoga classes helps reduce pain in the lower back and improves both one's mood and ability to move (flexibility).
Regular 90-minute classes twice a week resulted in a 42% reduction in pain and a lower intake of pain medication.
And finally, in a 12-week study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Yoga again proved more effective than physical therapy exercises designed for low back pain.
In this well-designed study, 101 adults were randomly divided into three groups, one of which attended weekly yoga classes for back pain and did basic yoga practice daily at home.
After the 12 weeks, and in a three-month follow-up, the Yoga group had significantly better pain relief than the other two groups, as reported by Dr.
Karen Sherman of the Group Health Cooperative in Seattle.
The evidence is consistent and compelling.
The holistic approach of Yoga for back pain provides more effective, longer lasting pain relief, reduces or eliminates the need for pain medications, and even reduces the incidence of depression that so often results from chronic pain.
So grab your mat and head for a Yoga class.
Find an instructor that understands and teaches Yoga for back pain and your back problems may soon become a faint memory.