Back pain is extremely common, with a majority of Americans experiencing either acute or chronic back pain after the age of 30. Chronic back pain, which is discomfort that lasts for 12 weeks or more, can be especially debilitating. People may avoid exercising or other activities that can worsen existing soreness. The pain can harm your quality of life, limit career options, and even cause depression.
If the ache is severe enough, you may think surgery is the only option. A physician can help you decide if this is really the case. However, they may also tell you that you can treat chronic back pain without having an invasive procedure.
Here is a closer look at back pain and how to treat it without surgery.
What Causes Chronic Back Pain?
Back pain could come from a variety of health problems or injuries.
- Pain from bone or spine development. Issues like scoliosis (a severely curved spine) or spina bifida (malformed vertebrae) can cause ongoing back pain, especially in the lower back.
- Pain from injuries. Injuries can include muscle or tendon strains or sprains. Overuse of specific muscles could also lead to spasms, cramps, or joint pain.
- Pain from trauma. Severe trauma could cause misalignment in the spine or compressed discs. These acute symptoms could lead to chronic pain if not properly managed.
- Arthritis in the back. Arthritis causes inflammation in the back, making you feel stiff and causing pain when you move. Arthritis is usually an age-related condition, though some people can get osteoarthritis at a younger age.
- Nerve issues. The spine has many nerves, and if one becomes compressed, it could cause pain. Sciatica, a compressed nerve problem, is a common source of lower back pain.
- Illnesses. Infections or viruses can cause temporary stiffness or pain in your back. Some infections can move into your vertebrae, causing chronic pain that won’t go away until you treat the infection.
Unless you have a severe injury, you may be able to try non-surgical treatments to eliminate chronic back pain.
Non-Invasive Chronic Back Pain Treatments
Here are the most common examples of non-surgical treatments you can try.
If your back pain is related to posture, an injury, or repetitive motion strains, physical therapy may be the best choice. PT involves stretches, strength exercises, and posture correction. You work with a therapist and may use equipment, braces, or other tools to assist in your therapy. A PT specialist may also show you exercises that you can perform at home to prevent future injuries.
Your diet can affect your back health in several ways. First, eating anti-inflammatory foods can help relieve arthritis in back joints. Dishes including colorful vegetables, leafy greens, berries, nuts, and whole grains can offer these benefits. Fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, have beneficial omega-3 acids that can counteract inflammation.
If you are overweight, you may be putting extra strain on your spine. A diet that helps you shed extra pounds can also bring some relief, especially if you suffer from lower back pain.
Acupuncture and Acupressure
Acupuncture uses small needles, placed just under your skin, to stimulate pressure points throughout your body. The goal is to stimulate the body’s natural responses to pain. Acupressure focuses on the same points, but it relies on hand pressure instead of needles for stimulation.
Heat or Topical Treatments
You can use heat for back pain. A heating pad can be especially useful for a muscle strain in your back. It loosens tight or stiff muscles and boosts circulation, which can speed up healing and recovery.
Topical lotions and gels can also help reduce acute or chronic back pain. Some of these treatments provide a circulation-boosting heating sensation, while others contain gentle numbing agents that offer short-term pain relief. Some topical medications have anti-inflammatory ingredients that can help relieve pain from arthritis in the back.
Injections may also provide relief from chronic back pain. There are several types of shots that you can get. Muscle relaxants or local anesthetics can loosen knotted muscles.
This may help correct posture issues related to overtightening. A doctor can also give you a steroid injection to reduce inflammation caused by an injury, illness, or arthritis.
A chiropractor or osteopathic doctor can apply pressure and manipulate your back to improve alignment. This can help with posture, relieve pain, and relax muscles. You may need a series of these non-invasive treatments to see full results.
Some specialists may use devices to aid in your chiropractic treatment. For example, they could put you into a traction device, which can gently stretch your spine, muscles, and ligaments with the goal of improving alignment.
Massage therapists also manipulate muscles, but they are not qualified to perform the same structural manipulations as licensed chiropractors and osteopaths.
Get Help for Your Chronic Back Pain
Carolinas Pain Center offers treatments for chronic pain. If you are suffering from issues such as back arthritis or a muscle strain, please reach out. Our medical experts can offer diagnoses, treatment options, and pain management solutions. We can offer choices that can bring you relief and help you perform your daily activities without discomfort.
If you are ready to address chronic back pain, make an appointment with Carolinas Pain Center today.