Noninvasive and alternative management of chronic low back pain (efficacy and outcomes)

Neuromodulation. 2014 Oct:17 Suppl 2:24-30. doi: 10.1111/ner.12078.


Objectives: The goal of this article is to provide a thorough literature review of available noninvasive and alternative treatment options for chronic low back pain. In particular, the efficacy of each therapy is evaluated and pertinent outcomes are described.

Materials and methods: A comprehensive search for available literature was done through PubMed and Cochrane data base for topics discussed in this paper.

Results: Relevant current and past references were reviewed and presented to reflect the efficacy of each therapy and related outcomes.

Conclusions: There are a wide variety of noninvasive and alternative therapies for the treatment of chronic low back pain. Those with the strongest evidence in the literature for good efficacy and outcomes include exercise therapy with supervised physical therapy, multidisciplinary biopsychosocial rehabilitation, and acupuncture. Therapies with fair evidence or moderately supported by literature include yoga, back schools, thermal modalities, acupressure, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Those therapies with poor evidence or little to no literature support include manipulation, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, low-level laser therapy, reflexology, biofeedback, progressive relaxation, hypnosis, and aromatherapy. Providers delivering care for patients with chronic low back pain must carefully evaluate these available treatment options related to their efficacy or lack thereof as well as relevant outcomes.

Keywords: Chronic pain; efficacy; low back pain; nonmedical; outcomes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*