Bogged Down By Back Pain?
Lower back pain is surprisingly common among adults ages 30-50. Over 80% of Americans experience this disorder at some point. The pain in a person’s back can vary from a bearable ache to sharp shooting pains. The pain could also be acute, lasting for a short period, or chronic, lasting longer than 12 weeks. With any low back pain, the goal is to find the source then apply useful pain management methods.
What’s behind it?
If left untreated, back-dominant pain spreads from the spine to the buttocks, hips, and even the legs. Chronic pain can stem from an untreated injury or underlying concerns. The most common causes of chronic back pain include:
- An injury, fall or wear and tear from specific jobs or physical activities.
- Arthritis of the spine, which causes a gradual thinning of the bone and cartilage within the spine.
- Nerve pain from conditions such as spinal stenosis.
- A bulging or herniated disc can also cause acute back pains and lead to sciatica.
- Unexplained muscle pain or tenderness can point to various underlying diseases and even cancer.
If the pain is persistent, see a doctor immediately. The doctor will often suggest these 4 pain management options to improve the quality of life.
1. A better back with physical therapy
Persons feeling acute or chronic pain can seek physical therapy. Physical therapy uses specific stretches and exercises to improve circulation, flexibility, and reduce inflammation. Physical therapists may try exercise therapy such as yoga or pilates to strengthen the core muscles to relieve pain. Occupational therapy teaches patients how to move, sit and stand, keeping proper alignment to alleviate strain. Laser therapy is another form of treatment that uses light energy to reduce inflammation and accelerate the healing process in damaged tissue. Finally, massage therapy relieves acute back pain after several sessions. The effect lasts approximately 6 months. Physical therapy reduces the symptoms of back pain.
2. Using corticosteroid injections
A corticosteroid is a shot containing cortisone and local anesthesia. The injections are administered either in the epidural space, tendons, or joints. When done correctly, this method can calm inflammation and relieve pain. Doctors recommend steroid injections for more moderate nerve-related back pain. This is only suggested by doctors when less invasive procedures do not work. More than 80% of patients will feel at least a 50% in reduction in pain.
3. Alternative treatments are available
The doctor may suggest acupuncture or chiropractic care. Transcutaneous electrical therapy or TENS is another method supported by doctors. TENS delivers mild electric pulses that stop pain signals. These alternative techniques have shown a reduction in back pain but should not be used long-term. If the pain persists, see a doctor for more support.
4. Changes in your lifestyle
Lower back pain can benefit from simple, consistent lifestyle changes. Simple examples include weight management, changes in the diet, and quitting smoking. This can put less tension on the spine, strengthen bones, and provide more nutrients to the affected area. Additionally, ergonomic issues can be addressed, like modifying workstations, improving sleep positions and posture. Over time, a patient will be able to manage the pain.
When should you get surgery?
For all doctors in almost all cases, conservative methods come first. The failure of non-surgical procedures may be a red flag requiring more examination and, in rare instances, surgical intervention. Some back pain may have long-term effects on a person’s quality of life and can worsen over time. For example, bone spurs or overgrowth in the bone or weakness in the limbs. At these stages, surgery is an effective option. Surgery can range from the removal of a disc, piece of bone, or a spinal fusion.
Take lower back pain seriously
Most cases of lower back pain can be treated with the aforementioned pain management options. These methods work well to relieve pain, especially when combined. Surgery should be the last resort when dealing with back pain as surgeries include more risk. To know for sure, visit a doctor to determine the best course of action.