Pilates is Better Than Drugs for Back Pain

Pialtes is Better than Drugs for managing back Pain

Recent research out of Australia has found that drugs like anti-inflammatory pills and ibuprofen are widely used as a first choice for patients with lower back pain, a condition affecting as many as one in ten. However, scientists found that they made so little difference that most people would not notice the effect.

Manuela Ferreira of the George Institute in Sydney, senior author of the study, analysed 35 trials involving 6,000 patients using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), for conditions such as back and neck pain and sciatica.

She said: “Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is commonly managed by prescribing medicines such as anti-inflammatories. Our results show anti-inflammatory drugs actually only provide very limited short-term pain relief. They do reduce the level of pain but only very slightly, and arguably not of any clinical significance.” Only one in six patients treated with the drugs received any pain relief that they would not have got from a placebo, and that was so small it probably made no difference to their lives.

What is more, drugs more than doubled the risk of problems such as bleeding and stomach ulcers. Dr Ferreira said: “When you factor in the side-effects, which are very common, it becomes clear these drugs are not the answer to providing pain relief to the many millions of [people] who suffer from this debilitating condition every year.”

Recent guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) in the UK concluded that exercise and psychological therapy appeared to be the only effective treatments. Acupuncture is now considered no better than a placebo. So, exercise is usually recommended instead, which for some patients could include Pilates, yoga, stretching and core conditioning.

The sad reality is that chronic back pain is difficult to live with, and even more difficult to treat, and while drugs do work for some people; they (particularly paracetamol) just don’t work in as many as was thought. So, if they give you relief, keep taking them, but consider a safe and gentle exercise programme to support your recovery.

A well supervised and individualised Pilates exercise programme will help you to manage your condition. One which develops core strength and stability and allows your muscles to support your spine in the most natural way possible, while improving spinal mobility and overall flexibility. In short, it conditions your body to move freely and without pain.


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