Have you ever gone to make an appointment with your physician, then thought better of it because you felt that there was nothing that could be done? Though it may be cold comfort to hear that you’re not alone in suffering from back or neck pain, it may help to hear that of all the reasons why people visit their doctors, back pain ranks as #2. (The common cold is #1).
If you’re wondering what kind of options you have or what your physician may recommend, the list below may help. We start with what you can attempt on your own, then move on to some of the top treatments that have proven most effective at eliminating pain and returning patients to a much-improved, normal quality of life.
What You Can Do for Yourself
A good percentage of back pain episodes are acute, but short-term, and can be managed with a little bit of educated self care. One thing that is important to know is that rest is not always the best answer. Movement will keep your muscles moving and send healing blood to the source of your pain, so don’t put yourself to bed or stick yourself to the couch. Take a walk around the block.
The other things that you can do to help yourself are a variety of over-the-counter treatments that can be purchased at your local pharmacy. Pain relievers like ibuprofen and naproxen can offer relief following strains and sprains, and so can heat treatments like hot water bottles, heated towels and wraps. Ice bags and cold backs can ease pain too.
What a Physician Can Do
After a thorough diagnosis, your physician can offer a series of conservative treatment approaches that can be extremely effective. These include:
- Physical therapy – A physical therapist can provide you with a variety of exercise routines designed to both stretch and strengthen the muscles that are involved in your particular condition. Even though your pain may not be muscular, by strengthening core muscles you can help to engage the core muscles, improving posture and taking stress off of the spine and the nerves that are being impinged upon. The other thing that a physical therapist can do is educate you about proper ways to move and lift so that you can avoid future injuries.
- Spinal injections – Epidural injections deliver medications into the space that surrounds the nerves in the spine. The medication decreases inflammation and helps to eliminate pain – especially the pain that comes from herniated discs and which sends pain down the sciatic nerve to the hip, thigh and legs. Your physician can also administer injections into the facet joints to address local pain.
- Spinal cord stimulator – This is a medical device that is implanted under the skin. It delivers a jolt of low-voltage electricity directly to the nerves that are sending pain signals to the brain. The stimulation replaces the sensation of pain. This approach is most often used for those for whom spine surgery has not provided relief.
- Minimally-invasive surgical procedures – Depending upon your condition, the best solution for you may involve surgery using small incisions. These procedures represent the state-of-the-art in back pain relief, allowing patients to recover quickly.
To learn which option is best for you, contact our office today to set up an appointment.