Alternatives for Back Pain Relief

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS

If you have never suffered from lingeringlow back pain, you’re lucky or, more likely, young. Up to 80 percent of us will experience low back pain at some point. And for most, there won’t be an identifiable cause.

In the past 10 years, the most popular nonsurgical medical treatment for “chronic, nonspecific” low back pain has been injection therapy, or shots into the lower back of various substances — usually cortisone but also liquid ibuprofen, morphine and vitamin B12. Doctors have been turning to injection therapy at a “disproportionately escalating rate,” according to an overview of back-pain treatments by a team led by Dr. Janna Friedly, a back specialist and an assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, because it’s relatively easy to administer, less invasive than surgery, can provide some pain relief for a few weeks for some people and is profitable for physicians.

But the benefits do not last, the latest science shows. In a commentarypublished in May in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers from the Netherlands point out that there is almost no evidence that more…