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Non-Surgical Treatment for Lower Back Pain

According to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPMR), lower back pain is a commonly diagnosed physical ailment, identified in up to 84 percent of adults at some time in their lives. Lower back pain may be acute, i.e. comes on suddenly and lasts no longer than about 4-6 weeks; or chronic, lasting greater than 3-6 months.

What are some effective, non-surgical treatment options for lower back pain?

Physical Therapy

The goal of physical therapy is to decrease back pain while increasing function. Physical therapy exercise for lower back pain includes specific back stretching and strengthening exercise to increase the patient’s rate of recovery. Additionally, the physical therapist will prescribe a specific maintenance program for the patient to prevent future back problems.

Pain Medication

Pain medication is prescribed after an assessment by the medical doctor and may include, an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or diclofenac; or analgesic such as acetaminophen or codeine; a neuropathic or nerve pain medication; or a muscle relaxant; or vitamins such as Vitamin B complex.

Heat or Ice Application

Applying a heat or cold pack may relieve pain and/or inflammation.

Therapeutic Massage

Therapeutic massages decrease muscle tension. When the muscle relaxes, it becomes more flexible thereby reducing pain intensity and allowing more mobility.

Fluoroscopic-guided (x-ray) intervention spine injection

A medical doctor who specializes in spine treatment such as a Physiatrist (rehabilitation medical doctor) may use x-ray or fluoroscopic-guided tools to identify where the pain originates, isolate that area and then inject therapeutic medications into the specific area. This procedure offers optimal care for patients with acute or chronic back pain because the rehabilitation doctor targets the source of the pain.

Spine Manipulation

Spine manipulation is sometimes used to relieve pain and improve physical function by using the hands or a device to apply controlled force to the spine. The amount of force applied depends on the form of manipulation used.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

For patients with chronic pain, the goals of cognitive behavioural therapy are to modify the patient’s view of their pain, and change the physical and/or psychological response that may contribute to how they perceive the pain. Cognitive behavioural therapy is usually combined with other methods of pain management.

If the pain intensity increases after multidisciplinary medical intervention, surgery may be required.