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Noninvasive treatments for acute, subacute, chronic low back pain: 2017 ACP guidelines

Noninvasive treatments for acute, subacute, chronic low back pain: 2017 ACP guidelines

In April 2017, American College of Physicians has issued a clinical practice guideline.on Noninvasive treatments for acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain

Following are its major recommendations 

Recommendation 1: Given that most patients with acute or subacute low back pain improve over time regardless of treatment, clinicians and patients should select nonpharmacologic treatment with superficial heat (moderate-quality evidence), massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation (low-quality evidence). If pharmacologic treatment is desired, clinicians and patients should select nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or skeletal muscle relaxants (SMRs) (moderate-quality evidence). (Grade: strong recommendation)

Clinicians should inform all patients of the generally favorable prognosis of acute low back pain with or without sciatica, including a high likelihood for substantial improvement in the first month. Clinicians should also provide patients with evidence-based information with regard to their expected course, advise them to remain active as tolerated, and provide information about effective self-care options. Clinicians and patients should use a shared decision-making approach to select the most appropriate treatment based on patient preferences, availability, harms, and costs of the interventions. Nonpharmacologic interventions shown to be effective for improving pain and function in patients with acute or subacute low back pain include superficial heat (moderate-quality evidence and moderate improvement in pain and function) and massage (low-quality evidence and small to moderate improvement in pain and function). Low-quality evidence showed that acupuncture had a small effect on improving pain and spinal manipulation had a small effect on improving function compared with sham manipulation but not inert treatment. Harms of nonpharmacologic interventions were sparsely reported, and no serious adverse events were reported. Superficial heat was associated with increased risk for skin flushing, and massage and spinal manipulation were associated with muscle soreness.

The committee recommends that the choice between NSAIDs and SMRs be individualized on the basis of patient preferences and likely individual medication risk profile. Treatment with NSAIDs resulted in a small improvement in both pain intensity (moderate-quality evidence) and function (low-quality evidence), and treatment with SMRs resulted in a small improvement in pain relief (moderate-quality evidence). There was no evidence for the effect of SMRs on function. NSAIDs are associated with gastrointestinal and renal risks. Clinicians should therefore assess renovascular and gastrointestinal risk factors before prescribing NSAIDs and recommend the lowest effective doses for the shortest periods necessary. Although they are associated with lower risk for adverse effects than nonselective NSAIDs, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2)–selective NSAIDs were not assessed for improvement in pain or function. Skeletal muscle relaxants are associated with central nervous system adverse effects, especially sedation.

The updated evidence showed that acetaminophen was not effective at improving pain outcomes versus placebo. However, this study assessed pain at 3 weeks after the intervention, and evidence from head-to-head trials showed no difference between acetaminophen and NSAIDs. Low-quality evidence showed that systemic steroids were not effective in treating acute or subacute low back pain, and the committee recommends against these drugs for treatment of acute low back pain.

Recommendation 2: For patients with chronic low back pain, clinicians and patients should initially select nonpharmacologic treatment with exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction (moderate-quality evidence), tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise, progressive relaxation, electromyography biofeedback, low-level laser therapy, operant therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or spinal manipulation (low-quality evidence). (Grade: strong recommendation)

Nonpharmacologic interventions are considered as first-line options in patients with chronic low back pain because fewer harms are associated with these types of therapies than with pharmacologic options. It is important that physical therapies be administered by providers with appropriate training. Moderate-quality evidence showed that exercise therapy resulted in small improvements in pain and function. Specific components associated with greater effects on pain included individually designed programs, supervised home exercise, and group exercise; regimens that included stretching and strength training were most effective. Moderate-quality evidence showed that, compared with usual care, multidisciplinary rehabilitation resulted in moderate pain improvement in the short term (<3 months), small pain improvement in the long term, and small improvement in function in both the short and long term. Low-quality evidence showed that multidisciplinary rehabilitation resulted in a moderate improvement in pain and a small improvement in function compared with no multidisciplinary rehabilitation. Acupuncture had a moderate effect on pain and function compared with no acupuncture (moderate-quality evidence) and a moderate effect on pain with no clear effect on function compared with sham acupuncture (low-quality evidence). Moderate-quality evidence showed that mindfulness-based stress reduction resulted in small improvements in pain and function (small effect), and 1 study showed that it was equivalent to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for improving back pain and function.

Low-quality evidence showed that tai chi had a moderate effect on pain and a small effect on function. Tai chi sessions in included studies lasted 40 to 45 minutes and were done 2 to 5 times per week for 10 to 24 weeks. Low-quality evidence showed that yoga improved pain and function by a moderate amount compared with usual care and by a small amount compared with education. Low-quality evidence showed that motor control exercise (MCE) had a moderate effect on pain and a small effect on function. MCE, tai chi, and yoga were favored over general exercise (low-quality evidence).

Low-quality evidence showed that progressive relaxation had a moderate effect on pain and function, electromyography biofeedback and CBT each had a moderate effect on pain and no effect on function, and operant therapy had a small effect on pain and no effect on function. Low-quality evidence showed that low-level laser therapy (LLLT) had a small effect on pain and function. Low-quality evidence showed that spinal manipulation had a small effect on pain compared with inert treatment but no effect compared with sham manipulation. There were no clear differences between spinal manipulation and other active interventions (moderate-quality evidence).

Harms were poorly reported for nonpharmacologic therapies, although no serious harms were reported for any of the recommended interventions. Muscle soreness was reported for exercise, massage, and spinal manipulation.

Ultrasound, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and Kinesio taping had no effect on pain or function compared with control treatments (low-quality evidence).

Recommendation 3: In patients with chronic low back pain who have had an inadequate response to nonpharmacologic therapy, clinicians and patients should consider pharmacologic treatment with NSAIDs as first-line therapy, or tramadol or duloxetine as second-line therapy. Clinicians should only consider opioids as an option in patients who have failed the aforementioned treatments and only if the potential benefits outweigh the risks for individual patients and after a discussion of known risks and realistic benefits with patients. (Grade: weak recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)

Pharmacologic therapy should be considered for patients with chronic low back pain who do not improve with nonpharmacologic interventions. NDAIDs had a small to moderate effect on pain (moderate-quality evidence) and no to small effect on function (low-quality evidence) and should be the first option considered. Moderate-quality evidence showed no difference in pain improvement when different NSAIDs were compared with one another. NSAIDs are associated with gastrointestinal and renal risks. Clinicians should therefore assess renovascular and gastrointestinal risk factors before prescribing NSAIDs and should recommend the lowest effective doses for the shortest periods necessary. COX-2–selective NSAIDs were not assessed for improvement in pain or function, although they are associated with lower risk for adverse effects than nonselective NSAIDs.

For second-line therapies, moderate-quality evidence showed that tramadol had a moderate effect on pain and a small effect on function in the short term. Of note, tramadol is a narcotic and, like other opioids, is associated with the risk for abuse. Moderate-quality evidence showed that duloxetine had a small effect on pain and function.

Moderate-quality evidence showed that opioids (morphine, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, and tapentadol) had a small effect on short-term pain and function. Low-quality evidence showed that buprenorphine (patch or sublingual) resulted in a small improvement in pain. Opioids should be the last treatment option considered and should be considered only in patients for whom other therapies have failed because they are associated with substantial harms. Moderate-quality evidence showed no difference in pain or function when different long-acting opioids were compared with one another. Harms of short-term use of opioids include increased nausea, dizziness, constipation, vomiting, somnolence, and dry mouth compared with placebo. Studies assessing opioids for the treatment of chronic low back pain did not address the risk for addiction, abuse, or overdose, although observational studies have shown a dose-dependent relationship between opioid use for chronic pain and serious harms.

Moderate-quality evidence showed that tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) did not effectively improve pain or function (low-quality evidence) in patients with chronic low back pain, which is contrary to the 2007 guideline. In addition, moderate-quality evidence showed that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) did not improve pain.

To Read the full guideline click on the following link : Qaseem A, Wilt TJ, McLean RM, Forciea MA, Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians. Noninvasive treatments for acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2017 Apr 4;166(7):514-30. [184 references]  PubMed

View the original guideline documentation

Source: self

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