New advice for NHS staff treating people with persistent back pain including the use of acupuncture and manual therapy treatments has been published.
According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), patients who have back pain for six weeks or longer but for less than a year should be given access to different treatments including a tailored exercise programme for up to 12 weeks.
The guide also recommends a course of manual therapy, including spinal manipulation, for a maximum of nine sessions over 12 weeks, acupuncture for a maximum of 10 sessions up to 12 weeks, and a combined programme of physical and psychological treatment.
Despite the new policy, NICE admits that current access to the therapies varies across England and Wales.
NICE says X-rays, ultrasounds and MRI scans should not be used except in certain circumstances, and the use of electrical machines such as TENS units to relieve back pain and the use of therapeutic substances injected into the back should also be abandoned.
The guidance, which only relates to people suffering from persistent non-specific lower back pain, also suggests there should be no early surgical intervention nor the use of psychological therapy alone.