Nearly half the world population suffers from back pain. Back pain can be constant or sudden and can range from mild to debilitating. No matter the type, however, back pain is a serious issue and getting back pain relief can be difficult. If you are one of the many who suffer from this kind of pain, it’s time for you to get informed of the various back pain treatment options for you to get the relief you need.
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Back Pain Treatment Options
Here are the various back pain treatment options:
1. Chiropractic Back Pain Treatment
Many people with back pain feel that chiropractic treatment is their best back pain relief alternative. Research shows that approximately 35 million Americans are treated by a chiropractor each year, and alternative medicines such as chiropractic care are recommended by the American College of Physicians as the first line of treatment for low back pain (Qaseem et al., 2014).
Chiropractic treatment includes hands-on spinal manipulation in combination with other alternative treatments. The main purpose is to align the body’s musculoskeletal structure correctly in order to promote relief. It can help with pain resulting from problems in the muscles, bones and connective tissue. Chiropractic treatment is used to restore joint mobility and proper movement due to overuse injury, poor posture, or other types of injury. Sometimes it is used in combination with other conventional medical treatments.
After a physical examination is performed and the diagnosis is determined, a chiropractor designs a treatment plan for the patient. This plan may involve one or several manual adjustments of the joints. This is done by controlled, sudden force applied to the musculoskeletal system to improve the range of motion and quality of movement. Additionally, a chiropractor may incorporate exercise and rehabilitation as a part of the treatment plan.
Chiropractic care is an effective, safe treatment for lower back pain relief. It is often used in cases that result from a sudden injury, such as getting tackled or attempting to move heavy objects.
2. Injections for Back Pain Treatment
Medicines are often injected to reduce back pain and inflammation. These medicines usually consist of a numbing medicine and a steroid.
There are two major types of back pain that are most commonly treated with injections: spinal stenosis and radiculopathy. Radiculopathy is inflammation or damage of nerve(s) in the low back or neck. Radiculopathy often results in a sharp pain that can extend from the lower back down into one or both legs. Spinal stenosis occurs when the vertebrae become narrowed and compress the nerves. This can lead to pain in the back, buttocks, and legs. Injections are also used for other types of back pain and to determine the cause of reoccurring pain.
Medicines can be effective in relieving lower back pain and are usually injected into or around inflamed or damaged nerves. The following injections are commonly used for back pain:
- Nerve Block
The word “Epidural” refers to “around the spinal cord”. Epidurals can be performed in a doctor’s office or at a hospital, and are usually given by anesthesiologists or interventional radiologists. The pain of epidural injections is controlled through the use of numbing medicines, in most cases. However, people can experience mild tenderness for a few days after the injection.
A discography is a diagnostic tool that is used to determine whether discs are causing back pain. Specifically, a discography involves injecting liquid into the discs to determine which is causing the pain.
For a nerve block, an anesthetic is injected in the area around the nerve. The most common anesthetic used in combination with this injection is Lidocaine. The injection can be followed by numbness with pain relief. However, the numbness only lasts for several hours, typically.
3. Spinal Decompression Treatment for Back Pain
If you have been suffering from back pain, you’ve likely wondered how to treat back pain. Back pain can be extremely disruptive, and many people choose to turn to spinal decompression therapy. There are two types of spinal decompression: nonsurgical and surgical.
Nonsurgical spinal decompression stretches the vertebrae gently with the goal of achieving back pain relief. When done properly, this can change the position and forces on the spinal column, which can take the pressure off the spinal disks that might be causing pain.
This type of spinal decompression treatment is typically used for back or neck pain, bulging disks, degenerative disk disease, disorders of vertebral joints, or inflamed nerves.
When performing nonsurgical spinal decompression, the professional fit the patient with a harness that is placed around the pelvis and trunk. The patient lies on a table as the procedure is performed. Treatments may last 30 to 45 minutes. A patient typically needs 20 to 28 treatments over a span of five to seven weeks. This treatment can be combined with others for increased effectiveness, such as electrical stimulation, heat and cold therapy, or ultrasound.
Surgical spinal decompression is another treatment option for back pain, but it is most commonly used as a last resort. The surgery may help patients with pain, tingling, weakness, and numbness. There are several types of surgeries, including:
- Diskectomy – removal of a portion of the disk
- Laminectomy – see below
- Foraminotomy – removal of bone and tissue to expand nerve roots openings
- Osteophyte removal – removal of bony growths
- Corpectomy – removal of a vertebral body
When it comes to back pain surgery, there are several risks that should be carefully considered. These include infection, blood clots, allergic reaction, bleeding, and nerve or tissue damage, among others.
Laminectomy is one of the most commonly performed surgeries for back pain. In this treatment for back pain, the surgeon will typically remove the rear portion of the vertebrae. Additionally, he or she may remove any bone spurs and ligaments that are pressing on the nerves.
Most of these surgeries are performed with mechanical ventilation and anesthesia. In most cases, patients will experience an immediate reduction in back pain symptoms. However, back pain relief may not be experienced for up to about six weeks after the surgery.
5. Back Pain Relief at Home
In many cases, doctors will recommend the following remedies for back pain relief:
- Sleeping with a pillow between the knees and sleeping on the side.
- Lying on the back with a pillow under the knees.
- Regular exercise.
- Certain non-prescription medications such as ibuprofen or Tylenol.
- Use of ice or heat.
- Avoiding prolonged bed rest.
6. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is commonly used to alleviate back pain. This type of treatment focuses on injuries, disability management, and prevention, and can be used to relieve back pain and promote healing processes.
Both active and passive therapy can be used. Passive therapy includes manual therapies, electrical stimulation, heat packs, ice packs, ultrasound, and dry needling. Active physical therapy, on the other hand, includes exercises, movement-based activities, strengthening exercises, and aerobic conditioning.
7. Bioelectric Therapy
This treatment for back pain is a safe, drug-free way of reducing back pain. It is used for treating both chronic and acute conditions. Bioelectric therapy works by blocking the pain messages sent to the brain through the use of bioelectric currents. Additionally, it helps prompt the body to produce pain-relieving endorphins. This therapy is usually accompanied by other back pain treatments for increased efficacy.
This type of therapy is used to treat many disorders, such as reflex sympathetic dystrophy, back pain, headaches and migraines, muscle pain, blood flow disorders in limbs, arthritis, TMJ, skin ulcers, and pain. It is not recommended for pregnant women and those who suffer from thrombosis or bacterial infection.
8. Acupuncture for Back Pain Treatment
Acupuncture is becoming a common treatment for chronic low back pain. A recent review of studies assessing the effectiveness of acupuncture found that acupuncture can provide short-term, lower back pain relief (Manheimer et al., 2005).
Acupuncture has its origins dating back more than 2500 years, first starting in China. The procedure involves inserting needles into specific points on the body. According to this medicine, there are more than 2000 such points throughout the human body, which are connected by meridians that create a Qi energy.
Back pain relief is thought to come from the stimulation of the nervous system by the needles. This, purposely, triggers the release of chemicals into the spinal cord, brain, and muscles, that alter the experience of pain.
If done by a professional, acupuncture is a safe procedure. There are several serious side effects if not done by someone who is professionally trained. Therefore, it is always important to choose a trained acupuncturist in order to avoid such side effects.
If you are considering acupuncture as an alternative for back pain relief, make sure that you discuss this decision with your physician. Inform the acupuncturist of an existing pregnancy, pacemakers, or implants of any kind. Your doctor should be the one to refer you to a licensed acupuncturist.
9. TENS for Back Pain Relief
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is another alternative for back pain treatment. TENS uses low voltage electrical current delivered through a TENS unit to relieve the pain. A TENS unit is a small battery-operated device that can be hooked to a belt. The device is connected to two electrodes that carry an electric current from the machine to the skin.
Support for this treatment dates back to the 1960s when the Gate Control Theory of Pain was introduced. Generally, this theory claims that stimulating nerves can close a gate mechanism in the spinal cord, which can help to decrease the sensation of pain.
TENS treatment is performed by placing electrodes on the skin over the area experiencing pain. The electrodes create electrical impulses that travel along the nerve fibers and create a slight sensation of tingling. These electrical impulses are associated with pain relief because the stimulation of the nerves may block other pain signals. It’s also been thought that TENS can produce endorphins, which help to relieve back pain.
When properly used, TENS is generally safe. However, you should consult your physician prior to use. The technique is not recommended for everyone, especially those who have a pacemaker or women that are pregnant.
A doctor or physical therapist should show you how to use the machine, but it must only be used as indicated. Always remember:
- If your condition changes, let your doctor know immediately.
- Never place electrodes on burned or damaged skin.
- Remove the electrodes if a rash or burn develops.
- Do not use electrodes on irritated skin.
- Do not drive while using the unit.
- Do not shower or bathe with the unit.
- Do not use the unit while sleeping.
Back pain is common and can be debilitating. Back pain can occur for many reasons and in some cases, the pain can be chronic. While there is no known back pain cure, there are many medications and treatments that can help to reduce pain and discomfort. It is always best to find the back pain treatment that works for you and work with medical professionals to relieve the pain.