Back pain is a widespread problem and almost every one of us has got affected with this painful physical condition at some point in our lives. Back pain is often acute and tends to resolve on its own without causing much functional loss. However, it may last for several days and sometimes weeks. Back pain is considered chronic if persists for over three months or longer, even if the doctor is trying to treat the underlying condition.
Chronic back pain or long-term pain comes suddenly and lasts for days, thus interrupting your daily life and causing frustration. At times, people suffering from lower back pain often end up with chronic low back pain with the symptoms that lasts for one year.
Usually age-related, chronic back pain can also be caused due to any prior injury or as a result of a muscle strain following heavy lifting or an accident. It might be challenging to manage with chronic back pain if the cause is unknown. A thorough physical examination and careful evaluation of the patient’s medical history can help the doctor to determine if one is suffering from chronic back pain.
Depending on the cause, doctors may recommend treatment options or surgery to treat chronic back pain. However, surgery is not always necessary. Other treatment options like lifestyle changes, acupuncture, spinal manipulation can improve or relieve the painful condition. These treatments are planned to reduce the back pain and to improvise the quality of life and increase the function. Before choosing to go for a surgery, a person can try such alternatives.
In this blog, we will try to explore the non-surgical treatments that can provide relief from chronic back pain:
Physical therapy involves doing strengthening exercises, performing specific stretches and manual therapies by certified physical therapists. Strengthening exercises are advised to relieve tension, improve structure of the back and strengthen specific areas. These exercises are specifically tailored for the patient with the type of back pain addressed. Physical therapy may include: deep breathing, retraining posture, challenging the physical limits of tolerating pain, core strengthening, stretching and flexibility exercises, and aerobics.
Often termed as the foundation of the chronic back pain treatment, exercises that strengthen neck and back muscles can help bring down pain in people with chronic back. Exercise performed under the guidance of physical therapist is one of the natural treatments to relieve back pain.
A traditional medical practice, acupuncture is effective for people having chronic back pain. It is performed by an acupuncture practitioner and involves insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body.
Spinal or chiropractic manipulation involves movement of hands to massage, adjust or stimulate the spine. Only professionally licensed specialists should perform the spinal manipulation which otherwise may lead to further complications. However, it is not advisable to people with arthritis or spinal cord issue to go for spinal manipulation.
Being overweight can increase pressure on the spine or strain back muscles thus causing back pain. If weight loss is a contributing factor in the back pain, losing those extra kilos can be helpful to relieve pain from back. One can talk to the physician to learn ways to lose weight.
Higher levels of inflammation are found to have close connection with certain chronic pain types. There are certain foods that can help lower inflammation in the body like fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.
A wide range of medications are used for treatment of chronic back pain. These fall into different categories. The doctor may also prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen, that are helpful in controlling pain and may also enhance the effects of other pain medications. To treat nerve-mediated pain, the doctor may also prescribe nerve stabilizing drugs that include anti-seizure medications and anti-depressants.
For chronic pain, there are several injection-based procedures including nerve blocks, nerve ablations, epidural steroid injections that work well. The doctors tend to use these procedures only when the real source of pain is found and it is helpful. The injections may temporarily bring down the pain but they are not advised as long term solution.
The minimally invasive injections and complementary medicines are also proven to be helpful in treating chronic pain. But before the doctor starts the treatment, it becomes important for a patient to discuss the treatment with the treating physician, to make sure that there are no side effects and they are on the safer side.
As incorrect posture can be a cause of back pain, correcting the posture can provide some relief.
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