Treatment options for back pain includes self-care measures, painkillers (over-the-counter or prescription medications), physical therapy and exercise, surgery, spinal manipulation, acupuncture and other alternative therapies. Read to know more on how to treat back pain.
Most back pains improve within a few days to weeks with home treatment and careful attention. You may need a short period of rest, simple analgesics such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, and heat application. After your back pain is better, avoid lifting, twisting, and physical exertion. But if home treatments don’t improve the pain within a few days consult your doctor.
Pain relievers such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen are most often prescribed for patients with back pain. If your back pain doesn't improve with these medications your doctor may recommend a muscle relaxant (such as carisoprodol, chlorzoxazone, methocarbamol, or diazepam) or stronger pain relievers such as narcotic analgesics (codeine or hydrocodone) for a short period of time. Narcotic analgesics can cause tolerance and dependence and several other side effects. These medications must be used under close supervision, for a limited period of time as prolonged use can be harmful. Some antidepressants especially tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline are useful for relieving chronic back pain.
Your physical therapist may use treatments, such as heat, ice, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and muscle-release techniques on your back to reduce pain. After the acute pain is relieved you will be taught exercises which help to increase flexibility, strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, and improve the posture. Doing exercises regularly can prevent recurrence of back pain.
Some people with severe back pain which does not get relieved by other measures (medication and physical therapy) may need cortisone injection. The injection is given in the space around your spinal cord (epidural space). It helps to reduce inflammation around the nerve roots, however the major shortcoming is that it does not provide long term cure. The pain relief usually lasts less than a few months.
Surgery may be needed in few patients with back pain who don’t benefit from intensive conservative therapy measures. Some of the surgeries done to relieve back pain include discectomy, laminectomy, spine fusion and spinal disc replacement. Your doctor may advice surgery based on the cause of pain and your overall health.
As back pain can be chronic and there are many side effects of prescription medications, many people resort to alternative treatment modalities for pain relief. These measures may be used alone or in combination with conventional treatment. Some of the alternative treatments that can help to relive back pain are hydrotherapy, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, chiropractic manipulations, acupuncture, massage, yoga and meditation. Consult a trained professional if you want to consider alternative treatment for back pain relief.
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