Back Pain Treatment: Complementary Therapies

Previously, we provided you with a preview of what nutritional supplements are, and highlighted some of the differences between supplements that you would buy in a store, or online, and those made by pharmaceutical companies. Here are some of the major differences, and we will try to present you with the relevant information you need and leaving you to draw your own conclusions.

The cost of discovering, developing, and researching a new drug, up until the point where it makes it to the consumer market varies from between 500 million and 2 billion dollars. Where do all those development costs go? The majority of the money goes to the scientists and chemists who created and modified the drug, the operating costs associated with the facilities where the drug was developed (rent, heat, electricity), animal trials of the drug, and finally human trials of the drug.

All the while, the process will be overseen by various government agencies (namely the FDA) to ensure that the drugs are relatively safe for the general public, and that the benefits of these new medications will outweigh the risks/side effects. Finally, if the Food and Drug Administration approves the new drug, it is then available on the market. Once a new drug has been approved for the American market, the company that developed it has patent on it, and only that company can manufacture and distribute it. The patient remains in effect for 20 years before another company can make that products. Pharmaceutical companies, because they have a virtual monopoly on their patent drugs, cost much more than they would, though insurance does usually cover these high costs for many people.

So what are the benefits of pharmaceutical drugs over nutritional supplements? Fortunately, but the time a pharma drug has been approved for patient use, it has been under development and animal and human studies for over ten years. With these drugs, you the patient and the doctor, will likely know what you are getting, for better or worse. Though it should be notes that results vary from patient to patient in the clinical benefits of the drug and potential side effects. These drugs have been thoroughly tested, and you know that they will work, for a certain percentage of patients. Nutritional supplements, on the other hand, are under very little oversight by agencies such as the FDA, and quality control procedures vary from company to company.

So you will have to take it on faith that the supplement that you buy at the herbal therapy or vitamin store contains quality active ingredients for the capsules to do what they are said to do on the side of the bottle. Does the "People's Miracle" pill that you bought from Joe Six-pack's Pharmacy & Bait store really provide the instant pain relief it claims to on the bottle. Since no rigorous research has been done on this specific supplement, there is no way to really know if it works until you buy it and try it. With pharmaceutical drugs, a lot more information than that is readily available for you to make an informed decision.

Next, we will evaluate nutritional supplements as "holistic" or "natural" back pain therapies.