When you have chronic lower back pain (LBP), the very least you want is to be able to get through your day without severe symptoms constantly demanding your attention. While there are strong painkillers that can provide relief, these drugs also have potentially dangerous side effects associated with long-term use, not to mention the added risk of addiction and overdose. Some promising non-opioid treatments could provide welcome relief without these added risks. Before you start any kind of treatment on your own, consult your doctor or Santa Monica spine surgeon to ensure it won’t worsen your condition and cause more pain or lasting damage to your spine.
Researchers conducted a study involving two movement-based treatment options. These methods—yoga and physical therapy (PT)—are hardly new or anything you probably haven’t heard of before. Participants in the study were divided into the following groups:
Researchers collected self-reported pain scores from the participants in each group during the duration of the study. They also took measures of sleep quality, since chronic lower back pain is often linked to sleep-related problems.
The biggest improvements in pain scores were reported by people in the physical therapy and yoga groups. These groups also reported modest improvements in sleep quality, which is why researchers believe there’s an apparent link between better LBP scores and improved sleep quality.
In fact, subjects reporting pain score decreases of 30 percent or more six weeks through the study were more likely to report significant sleep quality improvements at the end of the three-month study. This happened less often for individuals reporting pain score improvements of 10 percent or less at the study’s halfway point.
Based on the results from the study, researchers concluded movement-based therapies may be beneficial for patients with chronic lower back pain that affects their sleep quality. What’s more, both PT and yoga don’t have the potential side effects and risks associated with opioid painkillers. Yoga and PT could also benefit chronic LBP patients by:
Movement-based treatments such as yoga and physical therapy can be tailored to your specific abilities and goals as well. For instance, a physical therapist can offer a treatment plan that can be adjusted as you make progress. With yoga, start by taking a class if you’re new to this treatment, and focus on movements that aren’t too strenuous. The deep breathing and various techniques associated with yoga could further ease your chronic lower back pain by helping you relax and improving your posture.
Yoga and physical therapy aren’t the only non-opioid treatments that may help you manage your chronic lower back pain better. Some patients are able to reduce their reliance on prescription pain meds with massage therapy, chiropractic adjustments, water therapy, or acupuncture.
Patients whose lower back pain is due to degenerative spinal conditions may find relief from surgical intervention such as anterior lumbar interbody fusion. Santa Monica patients with chronic back pain should see a spine specialist for diagnosis and a customized treatment plan. The Spine Institute is home to a team of highly qualified spine specialists who can determine the source of your back or neck pain and help you decide which treatment option is right for you. To learn more about The Spine Institute and possible treatments, please call 310-828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation.