How Does Chronic Back Pain Treatment Work?
Updated: Apr 25, 2022
Millions of people of all ages in the U.S. and worldwide suffer from back pain. Acute pain is pain caused by some trauma or minor injuries and goes away without much intervention.
Chronic back pain, though, is pain that persists for over 12 weeks, and about a fifth of people with acute pain develop chronic back pain eventually, too.
A pain that lasts for so long negatively impacts people's lives, preventing them from doing various tasks and enjoying otherwise simple activities or sports.
Luckily, chronic back pain treatment is available for those who seek it with today's medical advancements.
Causes of Chronic Back Pain
You'll be diagnosed with chronic back pain if it lasts over three months. This type of pain often can ebb and flow, sometimes giving patients relief but always coming back.
Many people spend years not knowing what causes their chronic back pain, which can be additionally frustrating. But even doctors sometimes can't seem to diagnose, in which case it's recommended to seek a second opinion from different specialists.
Chronic back pain is more common with elderly patients; however, younger people sometimes experience it too.
The most common causes for back pain are:
Disc problems (herniated or bulging disc)
Arthritis of the spine (inflammation of the facet joints and thinning of the cartilage inside the spine)
Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine)
Myofascial pain syndrome (unexplained muscle pain and tenderness)
Treatments for Chronic Back Pain
Once your doctor diagnoses you and finds the cause for your pain, it's important to move on to chronic back pain treatment right away. There are quite a few options, and together with your physician, you can decide on the best solution for you.
Here are the most common treatments and programs for chronic back pain.
Your physical therapist will create an individual treatment plan, but physical therapy usually includes retraining your posture, stretching, flexibility and aerobic exercises, and core strengthening.
Exercise is essential in chronic back pain relief and chronic lower back pain treatment. Check out some of the common causes of lower back pain here.
It's one of the first things you should try as it's non-invasive, doesn't require medication and is often accessible after proper introduction and education by a professional.
The physical therapist will most likely tailor the exercises to your specific symptoms and condition in your chronic back pain treatment plan.
Besides exercises, physical therapy may include other treatment modalities like massages and other hands-one treatments, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, heat and ice therapy, joint mobilization, and kinesiology taping. Find all the different types of therapy here.
While physical therapy is crucial, sometimes medications are unavoidable, and your doctor might prescribe you analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants for your chronic back pain treatment.
However, it's important to keep in mind that this shouldn't be the first step, and patients should not use medications for a prolonged time to avoid unwanted side effects. That's especially important with opioids as they are addictive and don't address the underlying cause of your pain.
Always consult with your doctor about which medications are best for your condition.
The commonly used medications for chronic back pain:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): over-the-counteroptions like, e.g. ibuprofen.
Acetaminophen: it's also over-the-counter, but please consult your doctor before taking it.
Muscle relaxants: these drugs are effective for when you experience acute pain flare-ups and need immediate relief.
Opioids: used for nerve pain and prescribed by a doctor. Not recommended for people with addiction risks.
The great news is that more than 95 percent of patients with chronic back pain don't need surgery. The bad news is that some still do, and your doctor might conclude that surgery is the only effective option for your chronic back pain treatment.
Surgery helps relieve pain caused by severe nerve compression or musculoskeletal injuries. But it's important to know that it might not always solve your issues and can also cause certain complications and side effects. Always seek a second opinion before you commit.
Surgical options include:
Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty
Discectomy or Microdiscectomy
Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy (IDET)
The list of treatments for chronic back pain also includes various types of injection-based procedures like nerve ablations, nerve blocks, epidural steroid injections, and others.
These are prescribed when the causes of chronic back pain are known or can sometimes help rule out certain causes if the treatment doesn't work.
These injections are not long-term solutions but can help with pain for a period of time.
Food can heal, and it can cause illness too. It's recommended to consult a doctor or a dietitian to help determine if some of the foods you eat are highly inflammatory and can lead to pain. You will probably be recommended to avoid processed foods, refined sugars, trans fats, etc.
Eating healthy, nutritious food with plenty of fruit and vegetables can actually lessen discomfort, provide chronic back pain relief, and reduce the pressure on your spine.
Changes in lifestyle
Changing your diet is a great first step in changing your lifestyle and understanding what works for you and your body and what doesn't.
You might need to limit activities that worsen your pain, like carrying heavy backs or doing heavy physical labor. You will get immediate relief and will prevent your condition from getting worse.
Changing your lifestyle is one of the best chronic back pain solutions as it's natural and helps your health in general.
Meditation is gaining popularity, and it's a great thing! Chronic back pain takes a toll on a person both physically and emotionally. In order to deal with frustration, anger, and irritability, it's beneficial to incorporate meditation into your daily routine.
Even just 10 minutes in the morning or evening will help relax, keep your mind from focusing on pain, and in the long run, give you other benefits.
Chronic back pain management can get frustrating, especially when treatments don't work or take too long to yield results.
There are some alternative treatments that you can try that might provide a solution. These treatments can also be a great supplement to other medical treatments and procedures your currently undergoing.
What Are The Best Alternative Remedies For Chronic Back Pain?
Acupuncture is commonly used for chronic back pain treatment. During the procedure, the specialist inserts a needle into specific points of the body, and it's believed that it can clear blockages in your body's life force "chi." For other sorts of needle treatments, check out our guide on dry needling therapy.
Chiropractic therapy is often helpful with severe lower back pain treatment. The chiropractor manipulates your joints during the sessions to improve the quality and range of motion and reduce pain.
Massage therapy is a great choice for mild and moderate chronic back pain treatment and as a supplement to other therapies. It helps relax the body and mind, reduce muscle tension and pain caused by tight muscles. It improves patients' flexibility, circulation, blood flow and also helps sleep better.
Yoga is not a treatment per se, but practicing this ancient practice has shown remarkable effects on reducing back pain. The practice may include both rigorous and gentle exercises and stretches that improve your flexibility, muscle, and joint function. You can also find classes and postures designed specifically to reduce back pain.
Having chronic back pain is one of the worst pains you can have. You might feel like there is nothing to relieve you, but there are actually several ways to treat it.
Surgery can be a solution, depending if your doctor recommends it or not. There are some natural remedies and solutions too that, although won’t cure you, will definitely make the pain less unbearable.
Physical therapy can be another solution to help your back pain decrease. Using exercises located on the zone where it hurts the most, you will eventually feel better.
Contact Miracle Rehab Clinic today to book your appointment and to find the best solution to fight back against your back pain.