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Treatment for Lower Back Pain: Conservative Options

Simply put, lower back pain is a pain. Whether it comes on slowly or suddenly, it can wreak havoc with our daily living. Simple tasks, such as driving or loading the dishwasher, can become excruciating. It can severely limit our ability to enjoy spending time with our family and friends, doing the things we enjoy the most.

The causes of back pain are multi-fold and include the supporting structures of the spine and various nerves.

Sometimes, the pain can be caused by a combination of these issues. At National Spine and Pain Centers (NSPC), our goal is to understand the real cause of pain and to treat it as effectively as possible. Back pain can be the result of a fall or some other kind of trauma, a period of prolonged sitting, or a heavy awkward lift with a twist. But regardless of the origin, conservative options can help reduce the symptoms.

Conservative Options for Lower Back Pain Relief

The first steps on the road to recovery may begin at home:

  • Rest and activity modification: Avoid strenuous and high-impact exercise or activities that involve repetitive bending and lifting. Give your body time to reduce the swelling that is causing the pain. Just don’t overdo it on the rest – too much inactivity will leave you stiff and achy.
  • Ice/Heat: There is no magic formula. Choose which feels best to you and use either heat or ice for a limited time– approximately 15 minutes. For acute injuries, however, apply ice in the first 24 hours.
  • Medications: Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or naproxen can relieve your pain and reduce swelling and may be used as the first line of treatment. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor first before taking any medication.

A NSPC pain specialist may have further conservative options to recommend, including:

  • Prescription Medications: We may also suggest prescription medications based on the location and severity of your pain, such as muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, nerve blockers and pain medications.
  • Physical Therapy: Whether the pain is mild, moderate or severe, physical therapy can help keep the muscles in your back strong and flexible. Some patients are fearful that increased physical activity will make their pain worse. That is why it is important to progress slowly and to have an on-going discussion with your therapist about the activities that you are able to tolerate. Some patients also find relief through aquatherapy, which is exercise performed in a warm therapy pool.
  • Massage: Massage can help to reduce muscle spasms and reduce pain.
  • Alternative Therapies: Some patients find significant relief with laser treatments, acupuncture, herbal remedies and/or chiropractic manipulation.
  • Injections and other minimally invasive treatments: NSPC pain specialists have expertise in implementing a variety of minimally invasive options to treat your pain if other measures fail. Sometimes these therapies are offered in concert with other options to complement treatment.

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