As many as 80 percent of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. However, the fact that back pain is common doesn’t lessen its impact on our quality of life. Spinal pain has the ability to disrupt our routines, steal our mobility, sap our energy and rob us of our ability to focus on what’s important to us. And let’s face it — chronic, unrelenting pain can be simply maddening. The good news is — spinal pain is treatable, and surgery isn’t always the default answer. It is possible to find lasting relief through safe pain management for chronic spinal pain.
For those suffering from some kind of back or spine-related pain, we’ve put together the following patient’s guide as a starting point. We’ll discuss the most common causes of back pain and explore some holistic options for treating spinal injuries, particularly treatments that don’t involve surgery or narcotics. We’ll also talk about the importance of working with an experienced specialist to create a customized treatment plan for lower back pain and other types of spinal pain.
What Causes Back Pain?
Back pain can happen for all kinds of reasons, which is perhaps why it’s so common to us. In some cases, genetics play a role in how we’re structured. At other times, it might be a birth defect or how our bones develop from childhood. Sometimes injury or trauma can cause acute pain. Many times, back pain occurs as a natural result of the aging process. However, many of the top causes of back pain are highly preventable, such as weight gain, bad posture, the wrong shoes or mattress, or even smoking. In these cases, first line of defense in spinal pain management is prevention. Back pain isn’t always avoidable, but if it happens due to a preventable cause, a simple change of habit is sometimes all it takes to find relief.
Common Non-Surgical Options for Spinal Pain Management
Many people with chronic back pain assume that surgery is their only option to lasting relief. In fact, surgery is the last resort. It does cause lasting relief in some, but it doesn’t come without risk, it doesn’t always work the way we hope, and it can cause other physical issues in the process. So whenever possible, we recommend exploring and exhausting non-surgical treatment options first. Check out the resources we’ve compiled below for some of these options:
- Home back pain remedies — for minor back pain, or for those who prefer a completely holistic approach, there are some basic foods and home exercises you can practice that can reduce inflammation and bring some relief.
Physical therapy — a professional physical therapist can guide you in moving specific muscles and joints to build strength and support at the injury site so it can begin to heal.
- Massage therapy — strategic massage can relax muscles, increase blood flow and release endorphins to help mitigate pain.
- Acupuncture — this ancient treatment technique can go a long way toward relieving tension and improving blood flow to help alleviate pain.
- Epidural steroid injections — Steroid injections can treat a number of conditions known to cause spinal pain by reducing inflammation and alleviating pressure.
- Electromyography (EMG) — This procedure is diagnostic and doesn’t cause pain relief directly, but it does help your surgeon pinpoint the causes of pain in order to create a targeted plan to help bring you relief.
What About Pain Medications?
While over-the-counter pain medications can be an effective tool in pain management, we are very careful with prescribing stronger narcotic pain medications. There are many risky health hazards associated with opioid medications, not the least of which is that they are addictive and patients develop a resistance to them over time. We may prescribe them under watchful eye especially in acute situations, but we steer our patients toward healthier pain management treatments as often as possible.
Other Helpful Resources
Check out the following helpful articles for more information on spinal pain management:
- Effective Pain Management After Surgery — If surgery becomes necessary, this article offers advice on how to minimize pain during the recovery process and beyond.
- How to Keep Low Back Pain from Getting Worse — Sometimes, pain management involves avoiding things that aggravate the pain. This article tells you how.
- How to Get Better Sleep with Chronic Lower Back Pain — Getting quality sleep in itself can be a powerful pain management tool, but how do you sleep when you’re in pain? This article helps you deal with that catch-22.
At Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery Center, we are committed to helping our patients develop effective spinal pain management strategies so they can reclaim their quality of life. To learn more, call us at 404-256-2633.