Treatment for Chronic Back Pain

back massageFor most people who suffer from back pain, a combination of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, heat and cold treatment, and exercise will help decrease the pain within four to six weeks. However, a small percentage of these patients experience pain in their backs that continue for more than three months, which makes it considered as chronic back pain.

Causes of chronic back pain vary from a ruptured disc to inflamed facet joints. Finding the exact physical cause of chronic back pain is very difficult, while treating this ailment can be complex and may continue for longer periods of time (except in specific cases where it can be treated by surgery).

Exercise – Moving around increases the patient’s function, making the blood flow more rapidly. An increase in blood flow on the lower back, as well as strengthening the back muscles, actually lessens the pain. Exercising vary from light physical activities such as walking to stretching routines like yoga.

Heat and cold treatment – Apply a hot water bag or ice bag on the patient’s aching back, switching between the two temperatures depending on which seems to help the patient relieve the pain more.

Therapeutic massage – Having the lower back massaged may help ease the patient’s muscle spasm.

Spine adjustment – Treating chronic back pain may require a visit to either an osteopath, chiropractor, physiatrist, or a physical therapist who specialize in the spine. In most cases, one spinal manipulation treatment is all the patient needs to notice improvement.

Acupuncture – This ancient form of medical treatment has been able to treat chronic back pain for thousands of years.

Psychological counseling – Not only one should seek a physician to help in relieving chronic back pain, the patient should also develop skills in managing and coping with chronic pain in order to avoid getting into the cycle of sleeplessness, inactivity, irritability, depression, and even more pain. Chronic back pain has a wearing effect on both the mind and the body. The patient should seek out a cognitive-behavioral therapist who can aid the sufferer with learning stress management and pain control skills.

Prescription medicine – Although it is not effective for all people, doctors sometimes prescribe medicines such as muscle relaxants, tricyclic antidepressants, and anesthetic or corticosteroid injections to block pain sensation or reduce inflammation. Ask for these prescription medicines only as a last resort, when over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, and ketoprofen do not work.

Spinal cord stimulation – In severe cases of lower back pain, the patient may need to undergo spinal cord stimulation (SCS), wherein a small pulse generator is implanted in the back. This generator then transmits electrical pulses to the spinal cord, providing a tingling sensation instead of the usual pain.

If symptoms of lower back pain worsen or have not gone away after two weeks of home treatment, consult your doctor.