A primary care doctor in Tulsa, Oklahoma has an unusual prescription for patients who come to him with lower back pain: watching a YouTube video.
In an article for NPR, Dr. John Henning Schumann says that when patients come to him with back pain, his recommendation is to go about daily life, with a few modifications. "The longer I practice medicine, the more convinced I'm becoming that less is often more," he says.
Dr. Schumann tells patients to walk for at least 30 minutes a day and to take ibuprofen to relieve inflammation. "Keep exercising, but try to take it just a little bit easy."
But often, patients believe this isn't enough and request an MRI.
That's when he shows them the YouTube video. It's a beautifully illustrated, 11-minute explanation by Dr. Mike Evans, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Toronto. It covers what causes various types of lower back pain, and why the vast majority of cases heal on their own ... as long as you don't allow the pain to take over your life, stop you from exercising and keep you in bed.
The prognosis for lower back pain is excellent, says Dr. Evans, who recommends seeing a chiropractor and getting acupuncture or a massage, as well as changing your workstation, walking, taking breaks from sitting and fixing your posture.
In the video, Dr. Evans argues that though many patients request imaging while experiencing back pain, only one in 2,500 x-rays yields an important finding.
In the end, says Dr. Evans, "back pain is actually not that much different than a lot of things in life. Your mindset and daily habits are critical and so is self knowledge."
And, of course, he concludes, "movement is medicine."