Anywhere from 40 to 60 million Americans suffer from back pain at any given point. The good news is that most instances of discomfort felt somewhere in the area of the spine respond well to conservative treatments and non-surgical remedies for back pain relief.
Mild pain medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, are often the first attempt at relief from back pain beyond initial rest and avoidance of certain movements. While medications won’t stop back pain due to age-related wear, the following drugs do sometimes help control pain:
• Aspirin • NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) • Narcotic pain medications* • Muscle relaxants • Antidepressants • Epidural Steroid Injections (ESI)
*Narcotics can sometimes have side effects such as nausea, constipation, and drowsiness.
Physical Therapy Physical therapists often work with doctors to narrow down the cause of a patient’s back pain by performing manual examinations and nerve tests. PT includes the performance of exercises and controlled movements designed to:
• Correct imbalances with posture • Improve muscle strength in the back area • Gradually improve range of motion
Prolonged rest isn’t good for back pain since muscles can become weakened over time. Being active on a regular basis helps relieve pressure on discs and strengthen muscles. Exercise to relieve back pain outside of what’s recommended during PT sessions can include:
• Yoga and Pilates • Water aerobics • Regular walking
Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation
Spinal adjustments can help reduce the severity of back pain. Certain adjustments may even gently stretch muscles, tendons and ligaments to the point where discomfort is minimized on a long-term basis, or eliminated altogether. Chiropractic manipulation can be performed by physical therapists, osteopathic physicians or licensed chiropractors.
Meant for use on a temporary basis, spinal braces are designed to minimize the risk of further injury and allow for natural healing. Bracing is often combined with physical therapy.
Patients are typically given at least 3-4 months to try conservative treatments for back pain relief before spinal surgery becomes an option. Even then, there are alternative treatments, such as acupuncture and herbal remedies, that sometimes help patients get to a point where discomfort can be managed enough to maintain quality of life.
If you are looking into treatment options for back pain, reach out to Dr. Hyun Bae of The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration and schedule an in-person consultation.
Dr. Bae is a trusted and experienced spine surgeon in Los Angeles who specializes in motion-preserving spine surgery and is at the forefront of groundbreaking research and innovative clinical trials. Call (310) 828-7757 to learn more or request a consultation.