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Back Pain Treatment Options

Woman has back pain soothed during massage therapy sessionMost cases of back pain will get better on their own by avoiding further stress and other home treatment. Over-the-counter pain relievers like Aleve can help you cope with the pain in your back. Now, you may want to take some bed rest time if your back pain is really bothering you, but you don’t want to stay in bed for more than a couple days. Lighter activities such as walking and other daily activities shouldn’t be a problem, but they should be discontinued if back pain gets any worse.

(If you live in Alabama, we are enrolling subjects for our back pain clinical trial in Birmingham, AL.)

Medications for Back Pain

Starting out, your doctor will probably recommend over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen or ibuprofen. All of these drugs have proven to be effective at relieving the symptoms of back pain. However, you should follow your doctors directions when taking these pain relievers, as there is the risk of side effects from overuse. Muscle relaxants may also be used for patients who are not getting enough relief from the pain relievers alone. Please take precaution with this medication, as they can cause drowsiness and some dizziness.

Other forms of medication used for back pain include:

  • Narcotics (codeine or hydrocodone)
  • Antidepressants (amitriptyline)

Physical Fitness and Therapy

Physical therapy has become an extremely important aspect of back pain treatment. Physical therapists have a broad variety of treatments at their disposal, including ultrasound, heat, muscle-release techniques, and electrical stimulation. As a patient’s condition improves, their therapist can even teach them further techniques which they can practice on their own time at home. These will help improve their flexibility and posture while also strengthening the muscles of their back. These practices can help prevent future episodes of back pain.

Injections for Back Pain

When these other measures don’t help to relieve back pain, then more aggressive treatments may be required. The first of these are cortisone injections (an anti-inflammatory medication) which is injected into the epidural space surrounding the spinal cord. These cortisone injections will reduce inflammation that could be present around the roots of the back nerves. Unfortunately, this is more of a short term answer to more chronic cases of back pain.

Under certain circumstances, a doctor may inject both a cortisone and numbing agent into the structures that represent the root cause of the back pain, such as the facet joints in the back. These are an essential part of our vertebrae responsible for stabilizing the spinal cord while also allowing for flexibility in the structure.

Surgery for Back Pain

This is the most aggressive method of treatment available for back pain, and it is very rare that surgery is ever required for this type of condition. If the pain in the patient’s back is caused by nerve compression, then surgery may be the right option for you. Aside from that, surgery is primarily reserved for cases where pain has been linked to some form of structural anatomical issue that is unresponsive to other forms of therapy.