For many, chronic pain is focused in the back. One out of every three U.S. women and one out of every four men experiencing back pain at some point in their life.
But how can you treat back pain while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle? And what kind of treatments are available aside from opioids?
Fighting back against back pain
It’s important to seek out medical care if you’ve been experiencing back pain for more than two weeks. While it’s possible to manage back pain at home using physical exercise, stretches, heating pads, and more, back pain that’s related to a medical condition requires a doctor’s input.
If you’re experiencing back pain because of an injury, consider using ice in the first 24 to 48 hours to reduce inflammation. After two days, switch to using heat. Be sure you’re only treating the area for 20 minutes before giving your skin a chance to rest.
Another way to reduce back pain is to seek out a specialist such as a physical therapist or chiropractor. Physical therapists can give you stretches and exercises that can help to keep your mobile without hurting yourself. Regular chiropractic visits can also help with pain management by stimulating your body’s self-healing abilities through spinal manipulation and alignment.
Some studies have found that acupuncture may be able to temporarily reduce chronic back pain. The good news is, if acupuncture is something you’d like to try, you might be able to cover your future appointments with the help of Medicare.
Medicare plans to cover acupuncture for pain research
According to The Washington Post, Medicare will be covering acupuncture for Americans involved in research for effective lower back pain treatment. The research will give the U.S. government more information on whether to offer Medicare coverage for acupuncture in Americans over the age of 65 afflicted with lower back pain.
“By focusing on older adults and addressing the limitations of previously published research, evidence derived from this initiative would assist the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in determining future Medicare coverage for acupuncture,” the Trump administration said in a statement.
The proposal for the research is a part of the Trump administration’s efforts to develop an alternative to narcotics for chronic pain treatment.
Drug discovery is a multi-billion dollar industry and the U.S. holds 45% of the global pharmaceutical market. Unfortunately, while narcotics are some of the only effective treatments available for those suffering from chronic pain, they’re also highly addictive.
To combat narcotics’ addictive track record without leaving patients in pain, experts have been looking for alternative pain treatment options. Medicare currently covers injections, braces, chiropractic care, and implanted neurostimulators. But acupuncture has yet to be widely covered because there’s been too little research on the treatment’s effectiveness.