Non-Surgical Treatments for Back Pain
Your spine surgeon may determine that your back pain may be treated with one or more non-surgical options. This will be after a thorough evaluation, which may include x-rays and possibly an MRI imaging study of your lumbar spine. Your doctor will then recommend the most appropriate course of treatment for your specific condition.
Several of the top non-surgical treatments for back pain include:
- Pain medication. The most common medications used to treat lower back pain include acetaminophen, NSAIDs, oral steroids, narcotic pain medications, muscle relaxants, and possibly certain anti-depressants. Each type of medication has its own particular strengths, limitations, and risks, and your spine surgeon will assess which medication is likely to provide you with the relief you are seeking.
- Heat or ice. Back pain may be lessened by applying heat or ice packs to your painful lower or upper back regions, and your doctor may advise alternating heat and ice as a preferred method of reducing your discomfort.
- Manual spine manipulation. A chiropractor or osteopathic doctor may be able to reduce pressure on the sensitive areas of your back with gentle manual adjustments to your spine, hips, neck or other body parts, which may improve your blood flow, reduce muscle tension and increase flexibility – all of which can lead to reduced back pain.
- Massage. Massage therapy provided by a licensed massage therapist can also improve blood flow, and may help to reduce muscle tension and stiffness.
- Exercise and Physical Therapy. Your doctor may provide you with a prescription for physical therapy and/or a list of suggested back exercises specially-selected to strengthen the areas of your back and help increase your flexibility. Low-impact aerobic exercise may also be a part of your prescribed exercise regimen. Be careful to avoid strenuous exercises which could reaggravate you pain and reinjure your back. Your doctor and physical therapist know which exercises are most effective for the particular conditions causing you pain.
If these non-surgical treatments fail to provide acceptable pain relief, and your level of function continues to deteriorate, your spine surgeon may discuss possible surgical treatment options available to you that could help with your pain.