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World Spine Day - 2021
Treating Back Pain Without Surgery

Every fall, we celebrate World Spine Day. The theme for 2021 is BACK 2 BACK!

This fall, we encourageour patients to go back to the basics and start making better lifestyle choices for a strong and healthy spine. Exercising, maintaining a normal weight, and avoiding strain on the spine, are all good ways to prevent back pain.

Yet, despite our best intentions, long hours at the computer, heavy lifting, or playing impact sports can damage the spine and trigger back pain.

How Back Pain Starts

Did you know that roughly 4 in 5 people will have lower back pain at some point in their lifetime?

The spine is like a finely tuned instrument — strong enough to keep you upright yet flexible enough to allow you to move. The spine is made of strong backbones stacked on each other and held together by joints, ligaments, and muscles. Back pain may result from a flare-up in any of these tissues.

Contact National Spine & Pain Centers to schedule an appointment with an affiliated pain specialist today.

When Back Pain Leads to Surgery

If back pain sets in suddenly, it is likely just a flare-up of the muscles or ligaments of the spine. Sudden and short-lived pain that improves within a month is known as acute pain.

If back pain stretches beyond 3 - 6 months, you now have chronic pain. Chronic pain is ongoing and disabling. In addition, it triggers depression, anxiety, and sleeping difficulties. Treating chronic pain can be challenging and usually requires a visit to a pain specialist.

Although there are some situations when acute back pain requires surgery, chronic back pain is more likely to lead to surgery.

That is why it is so important to start treating your back pain early before it becomes chronic!

Alternatives to Back Surgery

Although back surgery is sometimes recommended, there are other less invasive options to consider at first.

If you suffer from back pain, we bring to your attention several treatments that do not involve surgery:

  • Physical therapy

When patients start having back pain, they often are referred to physical therapy.Physical therapy is aconservative treatmentthat encourages the body to heal without invasive procedures like surgery. It retrains your posture and teaches you how to exercise without further hurting the back.

  • Exercise

Exercise decreases obesity, improves sleep, reduces depression, and increases energy levels. Exercise in people with back pain should be gentle and step-wise. Walking, water aerobics, and stretching with elastic bands are ideal. Strengthening the core muscles (muscles in the back, abdomen, and pelvis) can improve your posture and prevent further back injuries.

  • A Positive Outlook

Living with chronic back pain is emotionally draining. However, many people find that a positive attitude can boost their coping ability. It may help to see a pain psychologist to learn stress reduction. In addition, you may benefit from meditation, yoga, tai chi, music therapy, or other relaxation techniques.

  • Diet

Excess weight puts more pressure on the joints and can increase arthritis in the spine. In addition, fat tissue releases chemicals in the body that trigger inflammation and increase pain. Ask your pain specialist if your diet could be contributing to your chronic back pain and make the necessary changes. Try to avoid foods that are highly inflammatory or that contain trans fats and refined sugars.

  • Lifestyle Changes

People with chronic back pain have to pace themselves. For example, they might have to make several trips when carrying groceries, take more work breaks, and improve their posture. Being mindful of body position and posture is known as ergonomics.Ergonomics encourages changes in the work or home environment to prevent strain on the body. Another important lifestyle change is giving up smoking. Nicotine prevents oxygen and nutrients from reaching the spine and delays healing.

  • Medications

Analgesics, anti-inflammatories, and other over-the-counter medications are used early in the treatment of back pain. They reduce pain and help keep you comfortable during physical therapy. For people with severe pain, stronger medications like muscle relaxants, opioids, and anti-depressants may help. However, most medications have unwanted side effects and are not always suitedfor long-term use.

  • Interventions From a Pain Specialist

When medications, physical therapy, exercise, and other conservative treatments fail, a pain specialist can offer you “minimally invasive” interventions." Interventions from a pain specialist are more effective than the conservative treatments listed above, yet not as aggressive as surgery. You may benefit from joint injections, nerve block, or epidural steroid injections (ESIs). Implant with an IT Pain Pump or a Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) can offer you ongoing pain relief at the touch of a button.

Conclusion

In some people, the treatments listed above completely relieve back pain. In people with severe spine problems, they may reduce pain until surgery or another long-term solution is found.

If you are seeking relief from your back pain, our affiliated pain specialists are here to help.Click herefor an appointment.

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