Back decompression
Back pain: data suggests that access to alternative treatments is frustratingly limited [image: Delsiegrates ~ via Wikimedia Commons]

Back pain – access to effective natural treatment is limited

19 May, 2011

If you are suffering from back pain, you should be able to ask your NHS GP for a referral to a chiropractor, osteopath, acupuncturist or other complementary practitioner. But new data suggests that access to alternative treatments is frustratingly limited.

Guidelines laid down by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) – which give patients the option of a three month course of alternative treatment if conventional treatment fails – have been in place for two years now.

But according to a new survey carried out by the pollsters, Opinion Health on behalf of the College of Medicine treatment options are a ‘post code lottery’ that leaves people in some areas of the UK without access to the treatments they desire. Read more here.

Currently 82% of patients polled said they would like to receive some form of complementary medicine on the NHS. But according to the survey, 34% of family doctors could not prescribe complementary therapies for patients most seriously disabled by back pain.

Acupuncture the most widely available treatment was still only an option for 60% of patients with long term back pain. Likewise, while 40% of patients would like massage offered free on the NHS, only 3% of GPs said the service was available locally and only 5% of GPs can prescribe manipulation on the NHS.

Results of the survey were released at the College of Medicine’s recent London conference.

Back pain affects seven out of ten people in middle age. The failure to integrate accredited complementary medicines, both at grassroots and higher levels, is limiting the success of patient care.