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Sore Back? Try Heat and Exercise First, Guidelines Say

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Prescription drugs should only be a last resort as a treatment for lower back pain, a leading doctors' group said Monday.

NBC News reported on the new guidance from the American College of Physicians, which says doctors should tell patients to try heat wraps and exercise first, then over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen (Tylenol has been shown to do little for back pain), before they prescribe opioids.

"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 massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation," the group says in its new guidance, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Among the therapies that may help and have little risk of harm are tai chi, yoga and cognitive behavioral therapy, the group said.

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