Treatments for Chronic Back Pain

For many back pain sufferers, surgery is not an attractive or realistic option. Thankfully, there are a number of effective, noninvasive treatments that can reduce or eliminate pain, allowing individuals with back pain to resume their daily activities. The following list is a summary of the most popular, noninvasive treatments. Be sure to speak with a medical physician prior to incorporating any of these treatments. In many cases, your doctor will recommend a multidisciplinary approach including several of these methods.

  • Pain Medication. Certain over-the-counter pain medications can be used to alleviate moderate pain. Over-the-counter analgesics can reduce pain and decrease inflammation which may be a contributing factor to the pain. Counterirritant skin rubs stimulate your nerve receptors with cold or hot sensations which can counter or mask back pain. For more extreme pain, your doctor may choose to prescribe certain medications, such as anticonvulsants, antidepressants, or opiates. Though considered less invasive than surgery, these are serious medications with potentially dangerous side effects, so always speak to your physician concerning prescription medication.
  • Back braces and Support Braces. Back supports and braces are available from reputable medical supply vendors and many do not require a prescription. In some instances, these supports can help remove strain from the lower back and spine. Your physician can help you determine which, if any, type of brace is right for you. Generally, these braces should only be worn for a few hours of the day as over-dependence could have a negative effect on muscle strength.
  • Heat & Cold Therapy. Studies have shown that heat and cold compression are effective methods for relieving acute nonspecific back pain, such as a moderate sports injury. These therapies may also alleviate chronic back pain, though there are currently no reports to definitely demonstrate this. Heat and cold therapies will certainly not hurt a chronic back pain sufferer, and it is safe to say cold therapy will constrict blood vessels, slow nerve receptors, and reduce swelling, all of which can reduce pain.
  • Electrotherapy. Electrical nerve stimulation delivers a minute, non-painful electrical current to a nerve point or pathway. Science has not yet determined exactly why or how electrotherapy works. Some theorize that the process releases endorphins which block or prevent pain. Others argue that it is the placebo effect.
  • Exercise / Physical Therapy. As with many injuries, strategic exercises and muscle development may help to reduce or prevent pain. Speak with your doctor or physical therapist to determine which types of exercise will most benefit your specific situation. In many cases, a supervised regimen of flexing, stretching, endurance training, strength building and/or aerobic exercise can be beneficial.

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