Back Pain: The Truth Behind Controversial Solutions

To ease your aching back, Dr. Oz examines the 3 most controversial treatments to help you determine what’s safe and most effective.

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A whopping 80% of Americans will suffer a severe case of back pain in their lifetime. Many of the treatments available today are shrouded in controversy. To help demystify your options, Dr. Oz weighs in and offers what he deems to be the most effective solutions.

1. Back Surgery

Unresolved back pain sends more than 500,000 Americans into the OR for major surgery each year. Not only is back surgery one of the most expensive procedures, but critics also call the operation overly invasive, citing statistics that surgery may be a temporary fix at best and can also cause complications that involve nerve damage and even more pain.

In most cases, back surgery is NOT the best solution for back pain. In fact, time is often the best antidote since 90% of back pain heals within a few weeks.

When it comes to back pain, many doctors order tests immediately, but this can lead to unnecessary treatment since images can be misleading. For instance, a spine with a bulge can indicate sciatica (back pain and shooting leg pain), but it can also simply show natural degeneration of the spine, which does not actually cause pain. Physicians should abstain from ordering X-rays, MRI or CT scans for at least 6 weeks to see if the pain resolves on its own.

Finally, 1 in 5 people who undergo back surgery will need another operation within a decade. Of course, there are times when surgery is absolutely necessary, but it should not be your first course of action. Most acute back pain – especially garden-variety lower back pain – will go away on its own; the tincture of time is usually the best medicine.

Dr. Oz's #1 Back Pain Solution: Physical therapy is Dr. Oz’s first choice for addressing back pain.

Physical Therapy-Based  Exercises for Back Pain

To avoid back pain, you need to prevent muscle atrophy. Try these physical therapy-based stretching and strengthening exercises. Do them at least three times a week or even every day.