A new study shows that commonly used muscle relaxants may temporarily relieve low back pain, but may also increase the risk of side effects.
A systematic review of nearly 50 trials, sampling 6,505 participants, showed that non-benzodiazepine antispasmodics, widely used to suppress muscle spasms, should be used for acute pain in two weeks or less For patients, the intensity of pain may be slightly reduced. Pain in lower back.
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But research shows that these drugs have little effect on pain levels or disability after 3 to 13 weeks.
The results of the peer review were published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on Wednesday.
The author writes: “We encourage clinicians to discuss with patients this uncertainty about the effectiveness and safety of muscle relaxants.”
“Although muscle relaxants are usually used for short-term use, the effect of long-term use is unclear.”
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According to doctors, low back pain is the most common cause of disability worldwide, and eight in ten people report this problem at some point in their lives.
Sometimes problems with the bones, soft tissues, or intervertebral discs of the spine can cause back pain, but in most cases, there is no specific problem that can be identified as the culprit, said Douglas Gross, a professor of physical therapy. University of Alberta.
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“This is one of the reasons why it is difficult to treat pain with specific interventions,” he told Global News.
Over-the-counter muscle relaxants and prescription drugs are widely used to relieve back pain. But they didn’t solve the root cause of the problem or prevent it from happening again in the future, says Danielle Carnegie, a physical therapist and kinesiology doctoral student at the University of Toronto (U of T).
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Jennifer Lake, an assistant professor at the Leslie Dan School of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto, said that in the short term, muscle relaxants may be effective, but they cannot be used for a long time.
“In the first few days, maybe they were okay, but after that, they might not bring you much benefit,” she told Global News.
The study also showed that non-benzodiazepine antispasmodics may increase the risk of reporting adverse events, such as dizziness, drowsiness, headache, and nausea.
Gross said that the very small positive effect on pain combined with the risk of some adverse events makes this treatment “very problematic.”
Experts say that besides taking medicine, there are other effective ways to manage and prevent back pain.
Gross said that for acute low back pain, the best strategy is to stay as active as possible and avoid rest.
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“We know that resting in bed for more than two days will be counterproductive and will actually prolong the duration of the problem,” he told Global News.
Light heat, massage, manual therapy, and acupuncture at home are also helpful with few side effects.
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, people spend more time sitting in front of TV screens and computers at home. Carnegie said it is important to take a break, switch to a standing position and walk around.
If you sit for a long time, make sure that “you are in an upright position with your feet firmly in front of the chair,” she suggests.
Carnegie also recommended different exercises, such as side planks and bird dog, to strengthen the core and spine.
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