Chronic back pain is a musculoskeletal condition that affects millions of people. Whether your chronic back pain is the result of an accident or injury, or just normal wear and tear associated with advancing age, it’s a good idea to see a back pain doctor for evaluation and treatment.
Chronic back pain can be managed with medications, targeted medical interventions, and in some cases, surgery. If you suffer from chronic back pain, keep in mind surgery isn’t always the answer. Therefore, it’s extremely important to learn how to properly manage and relieve your pain so you can continue to live life to its fullest.
What is Chronic Back Pain?
Chronic back pain is described as pain that lingers for more than 12-weeks or 3 months. Back pain comes in many forms, and is usually classified according to it’s location in the body, i.e., lower back pain or neck pain. It can signal a problem with the bones, cartilage, ligaments, muscles, or nerves in and around the spine, or a combination of these. The pain associated with chronic back pain may be mild to severe, and symptoms may include fatigue, numbness, tingling, and/or weakness in addition to pain described as being dull, burning, shooting, or throbbing.
Why Do I Have Chronic Back Pain?
The most notable causes of chronic back pain include:
- Bulging/herniated disk
- Degenerative disk diseases
- Soft tissue damage due to an accident/injury
- Spinal stenosis
Most Common Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Chronic Back Pain
Treating chronic back pain can be very perplexing at times especially if the cause is uncertain. Therefore, surgery isn’t always the answer. Since any kind of chronic pain can have a negative impact on your overall quality of life, it’s important to consider alternative treatment methods to increase function and manage your pain appropriately. Some surgery-free treatment options to consider are:
Cortisone injections are becoming increasingly popular since they provide short-term relief of chronic back pain (2-3 months) by decreasing inflammation that may cause pain.
Medications have been the mainstay of treatment for chronic back pain suffers for some time. Over-the-counter analgesics (acetaminophen), muscle relaxants (Flexeril), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen), and narcotics (hydrocodone, oxycodone) round out the most popular choices prescribed by healthcare providers. With the opioid crisis reaching epic proportions and the adverse side effects associated with some of these drugs, non-pharmacological approaches should also be considered.
Chiropractors are back pain doctor specialists capable of assessing, diagnosing, and treating various musculoskeletal dysfunctions through hands-on manipulation techniques designed to encourage self-healing and restore overall health.
Massage therapy is a time-honored tradition that uses manual pressure to alleviate chronic pain.
Sometimes the body develops maladaptive movement patterns in response to chronic pain. Corrective exercise uses choreographed body movements to restore optimum function.
Electric Muscle Stimulation
Electronic muscle stimulation (EMS) is a safe and pain-free alternative to treat chronic back pain. A handheld electronic device sends impulses through several electrodes that are strategically placed on the skin to target the affected area. Muscle stimulation effectively alleviates muscle tension, decreases inflammation and swelling, and improves blood flow to the neck and back with continued use.
Plus, it has the added benefit of being used at home or in the clinic setting.