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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

G Cover

Living with back pain

Treatments for a hurting back are often only moderately effective; research suggests new ways to manage the discomfort

A spinal injection to treat back pain that is linked to more than two dozen deaths in the recent meningitis outbreak — due to contamination of the drug with a fungus — has focused the spotlight on an oft-used steroid treatment that’s only modestly effective at reducing pain in most patients. This raises the question: Is there a better treatment for the 10 percent of Americans affected by low back pain?

No doubt, spinal injections that block inflammation, over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers, and physical therapy can bring considerable short-term relief, and often back pain heals on its own. But for those with lingering symptoms, back pain cures remain elusive.

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