Many occurrences of back pain, especially when muscle strain is the source, are temporary. However, some types of back pain reach a point where the discomfort is a frequent visitor. This may be the case with degenerative disc disease, a forward slip of a vertebra (spondylolisthesis), or a narrowing of the open spaces of the spine (spinal stenosis). If you’re living with any type of chronic back pain that can’t be fully “cured,” here’s what you can do.
Consider Various Physical Therapy Methods
Just because there is no definitive cure for your back pain doesn’t mean it can’t be managed enough so it becomes less disruptive to your daily life. Physical therapy alone can be both passive (what’s done to you) and active (you participate). Forms of physical therapy that may help soothe your aching back include:
- Cold and heat therapy
- Epidural steroid injections
- Over-the-counter pain meds and anti-inflammatory drugs
- Massage therapy
- Electrotherapy (TENS units)
- Core muscle strengthening exercises
Explore Non-Traditional Forms of Pain Management
Go beyond the typical forms of pain management and consider treatments like chiropractic care and acupuncture. Both remedies involve techniques that can be safe and effective when performed by licensed practitioners. Acupuncturists and chiropractors often make another attempt at diagnosis to determine what treatments will likely be effective.
Consider water-based activities like water aerobics or aqua therapy if you are having difficulty performing certain movements because of your back pain. The natural buoyancy of water allows you to stretch back-supporting muscles without excessive stress, strain, and shifts in weight.
Seek Other Opinions and Newer Treatments
In some instances, you may not be having any luck with treatments because your back pain hasn’t been properly diagnosed. Seek additional opinions from Los Angeles spine specialists. You may also discover newer treatment options you haven’t yet considered in the process, such as disc regenerative therapy and the use of spine stimulators and specially designed pumps that strategically deliver medication where it’s needed. Working with a nutritionist, personal trainer, or dietician may also be helpful.
Use the Power of Your Mind
The purpose of image control techniques like mindful meditation is to focus on thoughts other than your pain. A common visualization exercise involves thinking of a pleasant scene or favorite spot such as a beach. The use of imagery as a form of pain management may also include:
- Finding a calming, dark room free of distractions and interruptions where you can relax and think of calming images
- Practicing breathing and relaxation exercises to get in the right frame of mind
- Imagining yourself in the past when you were free of pain (age regression) or visualizing a future when you’re no longer in pain
Realistically, most people with back pain that won’t completely go away respond better to an assortment of remedies and treatments. Surgery is also an option worth considering for some forms of back pain that continue to be disruptive, especially when quality of life is affected. Surgery is only considered when there is an identifiable structural source of your discomfort. Otherwise, your best bet is to make positive lifestyle changes and explore various conservative (non-surgical) alternatives to spinal fusion.
If your back won’t stop hurting, and you’ve tried seemingly everything to find relief, schedule time with a trusted spine surgeon to see if you need spinal fusion or decompression surgery. Los Angeles residents can rely on Dr. Bae at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment.