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New NICE guideline for low back pain

27 May 2009 - 1:05am

Patients with low back pain will have to be offered a choice of either a structured exercise programme, a course of manual therapy, including manipulation, or a course of acupuncture, new guidance from the NHS states.

The guideline, published today by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, says all patients whose pain has lasted more than six weeks must be offered the menu of three types of evidence-based treatment, and it rules out a host of treatments that are currently provided by the NHS.

'Sea change' in low back pain treatment

The guideline says patients should not be offered therapeutic ultrasound, lumbar supports, or injections of therapeutic substances into their back, and NICE estimates that this 'sea change' in the treatment of low back pain will save the NHS money by abandoning treatments that are not proven to work and provide more consistent quality services for people with back pain.

Elaine Buchanan, consultant physiotherapist at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford, who helped produce the guideline, said special interest groups within the physiotherapy profession were already ensuring that physios would be able to provide many of the treatments laid out in the guideline.

Physios well placed to deliver recommended treatments

Professor Ann Moore

Professor Ann Moore, national research lead at the CSP, said the guidance would support physios in providing the best care and advice for patients.

'Physiotherapists have expertise in manual therapy, exercise prescription and in providing education and advice for musculoskeletal problems, and they are increasingly utilising acupuncture to help treat low back pain. As such, they are well placed to deliver the treatments recommended in the NICE guideline.'

NICE low back pain guideline


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