Back Pain Center

Back Pain Treatment

Back pain treatment
You and your doctor can work as partners to manage and treat back pain together. Carefully consider all treatment options and the risks and benefits of each type of treatment before choosing any modality.  Treatment for back pain depends on the kind of pain you are experiencing: either acute or chronic.  The general goals of back pain treatment are to:

  1. prevent recurrence of possible injury
  2. reduce or eliminate pain
  3. restore or improve function and strength to the spine

Acute back pain
Acute back pain usually gets better on its own and without treatment, although analgesics may help ease pain. Treatment includes over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce discomfort and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation.  Getting up and moving around can help ease stiffness, relieve pain.  Bed rest is recommended for only 1-2 days at most and people diagnosed with acute back pain should resume normal activities as soon as possible. Exercises or surgery are usually not advised for cases of acute back pain.

Chronic Back Pain
Treatment for chronic back pain either requires surgical or does not.  Most back pain can be treated without surgery and doctors should attempt nonsurgical treatments before recommending surgery. In a very small percentage of cases - when back pain is caused by a tumor, an infection, or a nerve root problem- prompt surgery is necessary to ease the pain and prevent further problems.  Keep in mind that many treatments and devices available for back pain treatment remain unproved. Ask your doctor about the efficiency and medical appropriateness of products before you buy.

Alternative and complementary treatments - The following modalities may help you manage back pain relief. Keep in mind that exercise therapy is most successful for strengthening spinal tissues r. So even though some passive therapies such as massage have their place, it's better to take an active role in your own treatment. Here are some of the most common complementary and alternative approaches that people use for chronic back pain:

    • acupuncture or acupressure
    • chiropractic manipulation
    • corsets and braces
    • cold and hot compresses
    • electric nerve stimulation (TENS unit)
    • massage
    • traction
    • ultrasound
    • yoga

Exercise and physical therapy (PT) - Although exercise is usually not advised for cases of acute back pain, proper exercise may be the most effective way to speed recovery from chronic back pain and help strengthen back and abdominal muscles. Supervised programs that include flexion, extension, stretching, aerobic and strengthening exercises are most beneficial for relieving back pain and improving function, as long as they don't specifically target the back. Your doctor or physical therapist can create an exercise program to meet your individual needs.

Injections or surgery - In the most serious cases of chronic back pain, surgery may relieve pain caused by back problems or serious musculoskeletal injuries.  Surgery is usually recommended only when the condition does not respond to other multi-modal therapies.  Even if an MRI or imaging diagnostic doesn't indicate a clear source of pain among vertebral joints or disks and pain appears to originate from those locations, you and your doctor may consider a more-aggressive approach to remove or reduce the pain and improve your function. Some procedures that you may want to consider include:

    • annuloplasty
    • continuous epidural analgesia
    • disc decompression and removal
    • disc replacement therapy
    • dynamic stabilization
    • epidural or joint steroid injections
    • gene therapy
    • interventional therapy
    • intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET)
    • laminectomy
    • microdiscectomy (disc removal)
    • neurolysis (nerve destruction)
    • nucleoplasty
    • radiofrequency neurotomy
    • spinal fusion
    • sympathetic nervous system blocks
    • vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty

Medications - Medications used to treat both acute and chronic back pain. Effective pain relief may involve a combination of prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies. You can take over-the-counter medications, or your doctor may suggest prescription medications to relieve discomfort until inflammation subsides and your body heals itself. Options include:

    • anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants
    • antidepressants
    • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
    • opioids
    • over-the-counter (OTC) analgesics

Psychology - Psychological pain management techniques can also address chronic back pain. These modalities include cognitive behavioral therapy, breathing exercises, self-hypnosis, biofeedback training and others. You can create a behavioral pain management program that works best for you can help you gain a sense of control over your pain. Back pain may become more manageable when you identify unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with healthy, positive thoughts.

Back pain is among the most common of medical complaints. But just because you have back pain doesn't necessarily mean you need medical attention.  If you experiencing acute back pain, it's recommended that you try conservative, self-care approaches to relieve back pain. If you are experiencing chronic back pain, doctors suggest that you look into active, self-care options before assuming that you'll need an invasive approach. Keep in mind that most people deal with annoying back pain using self-care, adjustments and other coping skills.

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