For decades, doctors have been prescribing Valium as a standard treatment for acute lower back pain.
The idea was that this powerful sedative would relax the muscles to ease the pain.
But a study finds that Valium (diazepam) works no better than a sugar pill for back pain.
In fact, patients taking a sugar pill actually recover faster.
The research looked at 114 patients in New York whose back pain was so severe that they went to an emergency room. Scientists discovered that 31.5% of patients given Valium still had moderate to severe pain a week later.
Only 22% of patients given a placebo still had significant pain.
Valium: Dangerous and Ineffective Against Back Pain
Not only does Valium not work for back pain, it is extremely dangerous. It’s highly addictive. One study found that half of those prescribed Valium abuse it or are addicted to it after three months of use.
Overdoses can easily occur, especially if patients mix the drug with alcohol, sleeping pills, or painkillers.
Valium is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. They are known as “benzos” for short. They also include Xanax and Ativan. In 2019, overdoses from these medications killed more than 8,000 Americans.
Benzo overdose deaths increased by more than 700% between 1999 and 2015.
Even while people were dying by the thousands, doctors kept prescribing more benzos. In 1996, 8.1 million prescriptions of benzodiazepines were filled in the U.S. By 2013, that number had jumped to 13.5 million.
A study last year found that 27% of all doctor visits among American adults results in a benzo prescription.
A Better Back Pain Solution
In the wake of the back pain study, even conventional doctors are rethinking their treatment strategies. The American College of Physicians (ACP) put out new guidelines that state what we’ve been telling you for years: Don’t take valium for back pain. It doesn’t work.
In fact, there is usually no need to see a doctor at all for back pain, according to Dr. Rick Deyo. He’s a spine researcher and professor at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Ore.
“For acute back pain, the analogy is to the common cold,” he said. “It is very common and very annoying when it happens. But most of the time it will not result in anything major or serious.”
Most back pain goes away on its own after no more than a few weeks, Dr. Deyo said.
Dr. Nitin Damle is president of the ACP board of regents. Even over-the-counter pain relievers should not be the first choice for back pain, he said. “We need to look at therapies that are nonpharmacological first,” Dr. Damle said.
Dr. Benjamin Friedman led the Valium study. He said, “Our study contributes to the growing body of literature indicating that, in general, most medications do not improve acute lower back pain.”
7 Natural Remedies for Back Pain
It is tempting to lay on the couch when back pain strikes. But this will only make things worse. Instead, as much as possible, you should try to maintain your normal activity level.
Here are seven ways to speed your recovery:
1.) Cut inflammatory foods: Eating the right foods can decrease inflammation… But eating the wrong foods can have an even more powerful—and negative—effect.
Processed foods, sugars, grain, alcohol, and MSG may keep your back from healing. Try a simple elimination diet for two weeks. Remove some of the worst offenders and see if it improves your pain. If it works, make the change permanent.
2.) Exercise: Almost any kind of exercise can help heal your back. Slowly stretching your back muscles can reduce back spasms and pain. Yoga can work particularly well. One study found that people who exercise four or more times per week have nearly 30% less back pain.
3.) Take krill oil: Researchers have found that a krill oil supplement can reduce inflammation by up to 20% in just one week. Krill oil also gives you a dose of astaxanthin. This potent antioxidant—65 times more powerful than vitamin C— helps fight inflammation. Take a 300-mg dose of a quality krill oil supplement once a day.
4.) Take a stand: Sitting down for too long puts stress on your piriformis muscle. It starts at the lower spine and connects to the upper surface of each femur (thighbone).
Prolonged sitting can lead to piriformis syndrome. This condition has many of the same symptoms as a slipped disk. It can even cause nerve damage if you don’t treat it.
But there’s a simple solution: Stand up every hour or so for five minutes. Standing takes stress off your back—and your piriformis muscle. One study found that people who stayed standing in the morning had 23% less lower back pain.
5.) Eat tart cherries: Tart cherries are a strong anti-inflammatory. Anthocyanins, the compounds that give cherries their red color, are the active ingredients. One study found that eating about 20 tart cherries fights inflammatory pain as well or better than a pain-relieving drug.
If you can’t find organic tart cherries in your supermarket, look for tart cherry extract or juice. It’s widely available online or in health food stores.
6.) Take willow bark: This ancient natural remedy contains salicin. It’s the same compound in aspirin that relieves pain and inflammation. Besides lower back pain, it is effective against menstrual cramps, fever, flu, tendonitis, bursitis, and osteoarthritis. Take 1-3 grams.
7.) Apply capsaicin: Capsaicin is what gives peppers their heat. Many back sufferers apply a topical capsaicin ointment to their back during flare-ups. It’s available from online retailers and at drug stores.
Back pain is bad enough. Taking valium will only add to your misery. Try these natural, proven solutions instead.
Editor’s Note: Discover other nondrug methods to improve your health by reading our monthly journal, Independent Healing. It’s your best source for unbiased, evidence-based health information. For more details, go HERE.